Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Drug punishment too severe

with 2 comments

From the Marijuana Policy Project:

Did you know that college students convicted of possessing just one marijuana joint — or of any other drug offense — are automatically stripped of their federal financial aid, while murderers and rapists are still eligible to receive federal loans and grants?

If you agree that this penalty is unfair, why not ask the people who represent you in Congress to do something about it? All you have to do is visit and enter your name and address. We’ve put together a pre-written letter that you can easily edit and send to your members of Congress urging them to co-sponsor upcoming legislation to repeal the penalty.

The student aid elimination penalty, which was first enforced in 2000, has since blocked educational assistance to nearly 200,000 aspiring students, most of them caught with small amounts of marijuana. Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been lobbying to overturn this harmful law since day one. However, with the new leadership in Congress, this is the first real chance we have to help students get back into school and on the path to success. But we simply cannot do it without your help.

Last year, a bill to repeal the penalty — the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education (RISE) Act — had 71 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. Won’t you help us ensure that this year’s bill has even more support when it is introduced in the U.S. House in the next few weeks?

Please visit right now to send a message to your members of Congress. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to take action: All you have to do is enter your name and contact information, and a pre-written letter will be sent on your behalf with just a few clicks.

If concerned citizens like you don’t let legislators know how you feel about this law, Congress will have absolutely no reason to do anything about it. But senators and representatives work for you, and when thousands of messages pour into offices on Capitol Hill, legislators will be forced to take a stand. Please do your part to ensure that a record number of co-sponsors signs on to the RISE Act this year.

With your help, we can and will repeal the aid elimination penalty once and for all. Thousands of young people are waiting to get back into school. Won’t you help them today by visiting and clicking a few buttons?

Thanks for taking action,
Kris Krane
SSDP Executive Director

P.S. Please view the letter that more than 150 prominent education, substance abuse recovery, civil rights, and law organizations are sending to Congress this week to call for the repeal of the aid elimination penalty.

P.P.S. Join the SSDP group on Facebook.

Written by Leisureguy

21 February 2007 at 10:07 am

Posted in Congress, Drug laws

2 Responses

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  1. i have been through the gamut and found that prison doesn’t pay off, but treatment does. Is there anyway I can some information on prison vs. treatment for a senior seminar course that will help me complete my bachelors degree. I will be going on to get my masters in counseling and I am currently working in the field with juveniles in a treatment facility


    mike percell

    8 April 2007 at 4:21 pm

  2. I don’t have things at hand, but Google and newspaper searches can help. Here, for example, are some letters that make a good point: be careful in how “success” is defined. (This also comes up in testing AI Expert Systems: one system, to diagnose bacteremia, had the goal of a 95% success rate. It got only 85%. But then they looked at the best scores of the human doctors, and those were around 60%. (I don’t recall the exact figures, but you get the idea.))

    So this article may have fallen into that trap—along with the people quoted as expecting a 75% success rate:

    The most comprehensive assessment of California’s landmark effort to treat drug users rather than jail them has found that nearly half of offenders sentenced under the program fail to complete rehab and more than a quarter never show up for treatment.

    The high failure rates have prompted a growing number of critics to call for jail sanctions for defendants they say take advantage of the program’s lack of penalties.

    Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 36 in November 2000. Under the program, most people convicted of drug possession get three chances to complete rehab and kick their addictions before a judge can send them to prison.

    To date, the initiative has cost California more than $600 million. By diverting thousands of nonviolent drug offenders from lockups, the measure has reduced the burden on prisons and saved the state $2.50 for every $1 spent, according to UCLA’s study of Proposition 36.

    So far, researchers have analyzed each of the nearly 100,000 defendants who went through the program in its first two years.

    But the large number of dropouts and no-shows has led judges, researchers and treatment providers to complain that voters undoubtedly expected more for their money.

    “For the lay voter, I’m sure they thought, ‘If you build it they will come,’ and that you would have close to probably a 75% or higher success rate,” said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ana Maria Luna, who leads a county committee on Proposition 36 issues. “We just haven’t seen that anywhere in the state.”

    How was that 75% figure arrived at? The article doesn’t indicate, but a close inspection of the judge’s ass might give a clue. The fact is that drug addiction is very difficult to treat, even for those who sincerely want to quit, and when you consider the population directed to treatment includes MANY who are just making the choice the avoid jail—well, 75% look close to insane. And even with a 25% success rate, the program is saving money for the taxpayers.

    The article doesn’t touch on the fact that most drug use—particularly marijuana—is a somewhat artificial crime: legalize and regulate the use of that drug, like alcohol and tobacco (each more harmful than pot), and you end the “crime wave” completely.



    8 April 2007 at 4:37 pm

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