Drugs Halt Aid for 8,900 Students

Drugs Halt Aid for 8,900 Students
Posted by CN Staff on April 17, 2006 at 17:00:24 PT
By Staci Hupp
Indiana -- Tonisha Mauldin had more than her clean record at stake when campus police found marijuana in her IUPUI student apartment last fall.  A drug conviction could have forced her to drop out of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Mauldin said, because she depends on loans and scholarships to pay for school. Federal law strips financial aid from college students with drug offenses.
That law has hit Indiana harder than any other state since it took effect six years ago, according to an activist group that has joined a nationwide push to overturn the law.In Indiana, 8,903 college students have been denied financial aid since 2000 because of drug offenses, education data show. The number makes up a tiny share -- only half of 1 percent of more than 1.7 million financial aid applicants, according to a report being released today by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group.But that rate tops the nation."I really don't think it's fair," said Mauldin, 19, whose record will be cleared if she stays out of trouble. Student drug offenders deserve punishment, she said, but denying someone a chance at university "has to do with the rest of our lives."The state has a unique place in the national debate. Indiana is home to the federal law's author, U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, a Fort Wayne Republican. Souder did not respond to an interview request last week.Indiana also is where part of the legal backlash originated.A Ball State University student is a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union.Alexis Schwab, a sophomore from North Judson in Northern Indiana, was charged with marijuana possession last fall, when officers pulled over a car she was riding in. Schwab's attorney, Adam Wolf, said officers found less than a gram of the drug.Because it was Schwab's first conviction, she was stripped of financial aid for one year. Penalties are stiffer for repeat offenders. Wolf said Schwab contacted a Washington, D.C., anti-drug law group, which hooked her up with the ACLU. Schwab, who studies public relations at Ball State, declined to comment through Wolf."There are scores of people around the country who commit any number of nondrug offenses," Wolf said, "and the government doesn't stand in the way of their educations."The ACLU's lawsuit argues the law singles out students who can't afford a college education without financial aid.Mauldin, of Muncie, counts herself among those financially strapped students. So when police officers found a small amount of marijuana in her apartment, "I was really worried," she said. "The only thing I was thinking was, 'I'm not going to get to go to school next year.' "Mauldin was charged with marijuana possession last fall, but she said a judge spared her a conviction in exchange for two years of probation and community service."Everything worked out for the best for me," she said.Her fate could be a sign that judges and campus officials are careful with first offenders. IUPUI police officers have directed five out of 14 drug-related cases to the university's dean of students this year instead of to the courts. The dean's discipline choices range from expulsion to probation."It all depends on the amount and on the circumstances," said Capt. Bill Abston, of IUPUI's Police Department. "People have a lot of money and time invested in their education."Drug arrests at public, four-year universities stayed essentially the same from 1999 to 2003, according to Security on Campus, a Pennsylvania nonprofit group.Souder's "drug-free education" law has been challenged by other federal lawmakers since it took effect. Those efforts largely failed. The law was modified this year to affect only people convicted while they're in college.Before that, the law could apply to convictions before a student got to college."That's certainly a positive step, but it doesn't address the underlying problem," Wolf said. "The law doesn't deter drug use. It deters an education."Note: Indiana has highest rate of financial-aid seekers denied for drug offenses.Source: (IN)Author: Staci HuppPublished: April 17, 2006Copyright: 2006 IndyStar.comWebsite: staci.hupp indystar.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:ACLU Drug Offenses Cost Indiana Students College Aid Lie College Students Might Want To Tell Student Drug Law Under New Scrutiny 
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Comment #7 posted by runderwo on April 19, 2006 at 00:21:31 PT
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that while I think Roberts' analogy is ridiculous and disagree with his reasoning, and I also think that the judge was out of line in denying the counsel of choice assuming that there was not a good reason for it, I agree with the Bush lawyer that automatically overturning the conviction is not the best thing to do and results in increased administration costs to re-try the case.Think of it this way. Given that the defendant had enough money to hire Low in the first place; and given that there was improper evidence, procedure, or some other technicality that the experienced Low would have been able to point out while the rookie lawyer did not; what is stopping the defendant from hiring Low at this point to argue the appeal?Now the case will have to be re-tried, at greater public cost, and in the end the resulting justice will be the same as if Low had simply argued the appeal and had the decision thrown out on a matter of substance. Doesn't make sense to me.
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on April 18, 2006 at 20:38:50 PT
twice punished
The strangest thing about this law is that is singles out drug convictions only, which is to say mostly cannabis. However, other criminal convictions are OK. If you are a thief, murder, or some sex crime person thatís OK to the good Congressman. It seems he is just interested in punishing the one group above all others. I wonder if a cannabis-using coed dumped him in college and he just canít get over it and now he wants to punish them all to make up for it. That is what this sounds like more than anything.
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Comment #5 posted by global_warming on April 18, 2006 at 16:36:09 PT
lest I forget
the faithful,the Souders and Walters,who feed on this prohibition of Cannabis,Laws were handed from God to Manand this is the chain of commandand those dip shit roves who use market hypeto harvest wealthcannot see beyond their next 'profit,
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Comment #4 posted by global_warming on April 18, 2006 at 15:53:10 PT
this is
a most disturbed article,Chief Justice John Roberts said that it may turn out that a trial was still fair, even with a person's second or third choice of a lawyer."It's not like he wants a Rolls-Royce and gets a Yugo," said Roberts.Justice Samuel Alito said that an accused criminal might ask for a family member - who specializes in real estate law - to try to do the very different job of criminal defense work."What about the real case of `My Uncle Vinny?'" asked Scalia, a reference to the Pesci movie, which prompted laughs from other justices and court spectators. ?Pimps, whores and the idiots, "prompted laughs from other justices, those same people, who have risen to the highest rank, to 'witness and 'judge our short mortal existence.Is this some joke, that I missed the funny line, is this some exercise in human frustration, that waves the banner of defiance in front of the mysteries?They may chew my leg or arm, the taste may be sweet, yet in their bellies, they will realize, their defilement, and when they see', they will understand, that, they cannot simply vomit their mistake.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 18, 2006 at 12:36:08 PT
Justices Weigh Defendants' Right to Counsel 
April 18, 2006WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court used a Hollywood example - the bumbling attorney in "My Cousin Vinny" - in debating a case Tuesday about an accused man's right to pick his own lawyer. In the 1992 movie, Alabama authorities mistakenly arrest two New York students for a convenience store murder, and a brash family lawyer played by Joe Pesci defends them in his very first trial. In the real case argued before the Supreme Court Tuesday, an accused drug dealer wanted an award-winning out-of-state lawyer to defend him on charges in Missouri, but the trial judge improperly refused to allow it. Nine out of 10 federal criminal defendants are indigent and represented by court-appointed lawyers, the justices were told. But when someone can afford a lawyer, the court has held that they have a right to make their own choice. The high court is deciding now whether a person is automatically entitled to a new trial if that choice is wrongly blocked. Justice Antonin Scalia said "your freedom's at stake, you should be able to use all your money" on the best lawyer, or at least one you trust. "You're entitled to the lawyer you want," Scalia said. After the judge refused to let California lawyer Joseph Low represent Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez-Lopez in Missouri, the defendant used a less-experienced local lawyer and was convicted of conspiracy to sell marijuana. Low attended the trial anyway, but was forced to sit in the spectator section with a court-assigned marshal separating him from his would-be client. An appeals court overturned the conviction on grounds that the defendant's constitutional right to an attorney was violated. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Gonzalez-Lopez was "ready, willing and able" to pay for Low but was "instead stuck with ... the junior counsel." It was the local attorney's first federal criminal trial. Not all members of the court appeared ready to embrace the proposition that convictions should always be overturned in those cases. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said he was "concerned with the consequences" of such a decision. Chief Justice John Roberts said that it may turn out that a trial was still fair, even with a person's second or third choice of a lawyer. "It's not like he wants a Rolls-Royce and gets a Yugo," said Roberts. Justice Samuel Alito said that an accused criminal might ask for a family member - who specializes in real estate law - to try to do the very different job of criminal defense work. "What about the real case of `My Uncle Vinny?'" asked Scalia, a reference to the Pesci movie, which prompted laughs from other justices and court spectators. Jeffrey Fisher, who argued for Gonzalez-Lopez at the high court, replied that judges "proceed at peril" when they tell a defendant that he cannot decide what's best for himself. Bush administration lawyer Michael Dreeben urged justices to consider the cost to taxpayers for new trials without actual proof that a defendant did not receive a fair trial. The administration acknowledged that the judge in Missouri should not have barred Low from the case. One of the judge's reasons was that Low allegedly tried to sign up a separate defendant as a client even though the defendant already had a lawyer. The case is United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 05-352. --- On the Net: Supreme Court: Copyright: 2006 Las Vegas Sun, Inc.
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on April 18, 2006 at 09:30:47 PT
Hemp Industry people-picket this exhibit now-----
today on C-Span Wash Journal the chief curator for the Benjamin Franklin exhibit was taking the c-span show thru the exhibit and taking phone calls from the public about Benjamin's life.
Among the more articulate callers was a most intelligent caller that I have heard call before. He asked the Chief Curator Page Talbott how Mr.Franklin would feel about the total prohibition of Hemp now in the U.S. as he had a paper mill that used Hemp and its paper was used for many items such as maps, books, the caller went on to mention other uses such as canvas and how wide spread Hemp was to keeping the U.S. safe from Britain control. --------you should have seen the deer- in the headlights look that this so called curator struck. When she came to--the most unbelievable and disgusting short answer was I don't know a thing about that. Soooooooo much for the great exhibit of one of the greatest thinkers of our Nations Time.ON WASHINGTON JOURNAL
Tuesday, April 18 
 Page Talbott, Benjamin Franklin Exhibit, Chief Curator - Constitutional Center
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Comment #1 posted by runderwo on April 17, 2006 at 17:53:54 PT
"Student drug offenders deserve punishment, she said,"Why? Who have they harmed? What threat do they pose?"but denying someone a chance at university            "has to do with the rest of our lives."Kind of like how putting someone in jail for a nonviolent drug offense alters the course of their life. To me, this doesn't seem to be about discouraging drug abuse as much as it is about creating a permanent underclass of citizens who have their rights and privileges stripped away for doing no harm besides breaking the law.
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