Drug Convictions Denying Student Aid – Shown to Increase Crime and Harm Society

Students affected by a federal law that prohibits federal financial assistance to those convicted of drug crimes, including possession of marijuana, are reportedly 60% more likely to receive a conviction of another drug crime in the three years after high school graduation. Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that education, especially college education, strongly correlates with ending criminal behavior. However, if students convicted with a drug crime are prevented from attaining an education because of the lack of financial assistance, they are more likely to engage in criminal activity. The research also found that the federal law preventing financial aid does not deter young people from committing drug offense in the first place.

Federal law only prohibits students with drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid, while those convicted for manslaughter, burglary, arson, and other crimes may still receive aid. The federal law ensures that students with drug convictions are excessively punished. The criminal justice system already dispenses a punishment after a drug conviction and the deprivation of federal financial aid effectively acts as a double penalty. The Higher Education Act was intended to give educational opportunities to low income students. In my judgment however, the result of amended Higher Education Act, which creates the double penalty, is to deny educational opportunities to many financially disadvantaged students.

Even the Government Accountability Office, a research arm of Congress, has not found evidence that the double penalty actually helps stop drug use. An Advisory Committee, which was appointed by Congress, recommended that Congress eliminate the drug conviction question from the financial aid application, because that question should be irrelevant to aid eligibility.

Research continues to show that the double penalty “has a large negative impact on the college attendance of students with drug convictions.” The research suggests that affected students are less likely to enroll in college at any point in their lives. I believe society, overall, is harmed by less students attending college and consequently returning to criminal activities, because of a double penalty on drug convictions preventing federal assistance.

An individual is caught with illegal drugs may want to explore methods to prevent conviction for a drug offense, such as a deferred adjudication. Such actions could prevent suspension from federal financial aid. To avoid the double penalty, one should consider obtaining counsel from an attorney with experience in fighting drug charges.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.