One of the uglier
manifestations of drug prohibition is a measure authored by Rep. Mark
(R-IN) which bars students from being able to receive federal financial
specified periods of time if they have a drug conviction, no matter how
minor. Known as the Higher Education Act's
(HEA) anti-drug provision, the measure became law in 1998.
According to the US Department of Education,
since the law went into effect more than 153,000 persons have lost
to receive student loans, grants, even work-study jobs to further their
According to Souder and
other supporters of the HEA anti-drug provision, the measure is
deter drug use among college students.
The provision's deterrent effect is unquantifiable, but what is
doubt is its deleterious impact on people who have had drug convictions
trying to advance their education and thus, their life prospects.
In response to Souder's
law, DRCNet Foundation, the publisher of this newsletter, formed the
Perry Fund (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/perryfund/)
in 2002 to provide
limited scholarships to students whose academic careers are threatened
by the HEA
anti-drug provision. The Fund has so far
awarded 14 scholarships to 10 students around the country, and
continues to do
so as funds become available for it.
John Perry was a New York City policeman who lost his life participating in
rescue effort at the World Trade Center on the morning of September
He was also
an ardent civil libertarian who worked with the ACLU and the
as well as with New York City drug
reformers. "My son encouraged
everyone to continue studying and opposed the provision that denied aid
potential students," said Patricia Perry, John Perry's mother, an
member of the New York Civil Liberties Union and supporter of the Perry
Fund. "I believe he would be
pleased that a fund bearing his name is being used to encourage support
others to increase their learning," she told DRCNet.
Now in its second year of
disbursing scholarships to needy students, the fund recently announced
scholarships for four students and renewed a scholarship for one other. Some are typical college students, some are
non-traditional older students, and one is an extremely untraditional
a former long-time homeless crack user who reports acing all his
scholarship recipients are:
- Michael Mayer, 19, Middle Tennessee State University. A native Tennesseean,
Mayer dreamt of attending a liberal
far from home and began taking classes at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. But after
being charged as a peripheral player in dormitory drug sales and being
convicted of a marijuana misdemeanor, that dream came to an end. With the help of a $475 scholarship from the
Perry Fund (and a full-time job at Outback Steakhouse), Mayer can now
his college education.
- Nicholas Haderlie, 21,
University of Wyoming. Convicted of
less than three ounces of marijuana, Haderlie served four months in
jail and is
currently on probation as he attends school and works full-time at the
Inn. A $475 Perry Fund scholarship will
help him stay in school until his financial aid eligibility is restored
- Sandra Krizka, 29, Northwestern Oklahoma State history major. The
freshman mother of three lost financial aid eligibility
convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. She
received a $475 Perry Fund scholarship to help her get
semester, after which she will once again be eligible for financial aid.
- Stephan Hansen, 36, Brunswick Community College (North Carolina) political science major.
The married father of six lost financial aid
eligibility after being arrested for misdemeanor possession of less
ounce of marijuana. Hansen's wife is a
school teacher, but with six kids, he has had to take a full-time job
Hut to make ends meet. A $475 Perry Fund
scholarship will help make it possible for him to stay in school until
financial aid eligibility is restored in April 2005.
- Donald Miller,
48, York College (Queens, New York
City) environmental science major. After
spending two decades on the streets of
New York, homeless, suffering from schizophrenia with a consequent
crack cocaine, Miller is barred for life from receiving federal
because a string of crack convictions he racked up while living on the
street. Now in his third semester at York, Miller has been
supported by the Perry Fund all the
way, receiving two $2,000 scholarships during the 2003-2004 school year
another installment of $842 (state financial aid kicked in to cover
part of the
cost) in time for the fall semester.
"I can never get
financial aid for the rest of my life. I
wouldn't be in school at all if it weren't for the Perry Fund," said a
grateful Miller, adding that he had achieved a 4.0 grade point average
semester. With a course load this
semester consisting of chemistry, sociology, music, and cultural
Miller expects to maintain that average, he told DRCNet.
For Michael Mayer, the
Perry Fund scholarship represented not a last chance but a chance to
improve his lot. "With the
scholarship, I was able to move out of my mom's house and try to be
college students," he told DRCNet. "I
was able to move close to campus and not have to commute 40 miles. The scholarship money also removed a lot of
stress," he said. "My mom and
I don't have a lot of money, and every little bit helps."
"Isn't that crazy,"
exclaimed Stephan Hansen, remarking on losing financial aid eligibility
joint. "I never heard of that
financial aid thing," he told DRCNet, "it's almost like
discrimination." Fortunately for
Hansen, he had a financial aid officer who had heard of the Perry Fund. "I didn't even know I had lost my aid
until I saw her, but she knew about the Fund.
It was the greatest thing I've ever heard of."
At least two of the
recipients are active in drug reform.
Now, after suffering the consequences of a drug bust, they have
more reason. "I have been active in
drug reform for several years now," Krizak told DRCNet.
"I contact my representatives regarding
different issues, and I also spread the word to raise awareness, and I
petitions regularly," she said. "Unfortunately,
I don't have any money to contribute, though."
"I was a dues-paying
member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
(http://www.norml.org) when I was
arrested," said Haderlie. "After I was
convicted and before I went
to jail, I was helping to try to charter a Wyoming NORML chapter, but
membership expired while I was in jail, and I don't have the money to
he told DRCNet. In the meantime,
Haderlie said, he is getting active with Students for Sensible Drug
(http://www.ssdp.org) and a
campus-based progressive activist group.
"Of course we are
only able to help a tiny fraction of the would-be students affected by
provision," said DRCNet executive director David Borden, who founded the Perry Fund.
"But the Perry Fund is more than a
scholarship program," Borden continued, "It's a statement.
The Perry Fund is a provocative,
attention-grabbing way of drawing attention to the issue and to the
drug war as
a whole, while helping young people who have been harmed by the drug
bringing some of them into the issue.
Giving out scholarships makes an impression in a way that goes
The Fund's kickoff
forum/fundraiser, held in March 2002, succeeded in drawing such
attention. The event, which featured
executive director as keynote speaker as well as Patricia Perry and
covered by Black Entertainment Television's Nightly News program, the
Associated Press, Long Island Newsday and other venues.
Time will tell what the Perry Fund's new
-- END --
Issue #355, 9/24/04
Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear |
With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums |
Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Washington to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine |
For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College |
DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate |
DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in The Crossfire: Casualties in The War On Medical Marijuana," by Americans For Safe Access |
Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision |
Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill |
Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing |
Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle |
Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request |
Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses |
Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields |
Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States |
Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations |
Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity |
Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story |
Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion |
This Week in History |
The Reformer's Calendar
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