RISE Act Press Conference
March 10, 2005


On March 10, 2005 CHEAR stood up with representatives from organizations such as the NAACP, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and the ACLU at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol Building, applauding members of Congress for introducing the RISE Act. If enacted, this bill will repeal the HEA Drug Provision, which, since taking effect in 2000, has denied financial aid to over 160,500 students with prior drug convictions. The conference was very successful and hopefully will help draw support to the drug provision's full repeal!

We had a number of very powerful speakers including 7 members of Congress:

Rep. Barney Frank (MA-4)

"Students who have drug convictions but don't come from families that need financial aid are not affected by this law. I don't condone drug use and believe that someone who commits a violent offense or is a major drug trafficker should be denied financial aid. But preventing students with minor convictions from being able to pursue an education is counterproductive and excessive."

Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-1)

"Not sure of the intent, but the ramifications of this law have extreme racial overtones."

Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7)

"I have seen students come into my office and cry, and weep because they couldn't get financial aid," said Rep. Danny Davis, adding that such punitive policies are "archaic, insane, make no sense, and are utterly ridiculous."

Rep. Robert Andrews (NJ-1)

"I'm here to raise my voice." "I'm glad the principle of one mistake ruining your life doesn't apply to members of Congress."

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7)

Noted that all people including these students "have one life to live" and we should let them succeed in it.

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-9)

"Education is a door to opportunity. We need to open it
rather than slam it." The HEA Drug Provision is a "prescription for an endless cycle of imprisonment."

Hilary Shelton (NAACP)

"The NAACP is further committed to do all we can to see to it that this over-punitive and consistently racist policy is overturned."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)

Spoke not only of opposing the HEA drug provision but of "standing against it." "Education is a door opener." "This provision hurts more than 160,000; it hurts our nation and our economy."

Marisa Garcia
(Victim of the HEA Drug Provision)

"It's time for Congress to admit that passing the HEA anti-drug provision was a terrible mistake. Only full repeal of this law will allow students like me to go to college."

Larry Zaglaniczny
(National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators)

"Our members believe it is an inappropriate use of federal power to utilize the student assistance programs to deny such assistance to individuals. Repeal should be accomplished now."

Jesselyn McCurdy (ACLU)

"Othewise qualified students are being punished twice. These are students that have already faced the criminal consequences of their actions. This policy makes it even harder for those students most in need of financial aid to get it."

Scarlett Swerdlow (SSDP)

"Souder's new proposal is a 10% solution to a law that's 100% flawed."



What We Had to Say:

What Supporting Organizations Had to Say:


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