Educating rapists on the taxpayer dime
Some of the nation's worst sex offenders will no longer be eligible to receive generous educational financial aid packages while they are confined in treatment centers under a bill approved by Congress.
A little-noticed provision of a broader higher education bill makes such offenders ineligible for Pell Grants, the nation's premier financial aid program for low-income students, starting July 1, 2009.
Both the Senate and the House approved the bill late last week and President Bush is expected to sign it into law.
The Associated Press reported in March that dozens of rapists and child molesters have taken higher education classes at taxpayer expense while confined to treatment centers.
"Today, the most insane wasteful spending program in America comes to an end," Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., said on the House floor Thursday before his plan won approval.
Keller cited the AP report that some offenders were using the financial aid to buy clothes, DVD players and music CDs — sometimes after they dropped their classes.
U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Stephanie Babyak said she did not know how many such offenders have received Pell Grants and how much the provision would save taxpayers. Keller predicted it would save taxpayers millions.
The provision affects 20 states that allow violent sex offenders to be held indefinitely after they have served their prison sentences because they are likely to re-offend.
Prison inmates are ineligible for Pell Grants under a 1994 law, but sexual predators have qualified once they are transferred from prison to treatment centers.
First, I think we should direct federal financial aid money to people who HAVEN'T committed violent crimes against people. When you consider how much federal aid to deserving students has stagnated and even in some cases decreased in the past twenty years, then you have to say that rapists should be able to be rehabilitated without demanding a free college degree to do it. If law-abiding students were able to get enough aid to meet their needs, then that would be a different story.
The only way I could afford college-- as the first person in my family to attend college-- was through a combination of academic and music scholarships, work study, and loans. Lots and lots of loans. That I then spent ten years paying off while earning a whopping $11,000 a year.
Imagine-- just imagine-- if our government would concentrate its trillions of dollars of spending on programs that actually benefit the citizens, not oil corporations or criminals. But I repeat myself. And I'm sounding like John Lennon.
It's about justice. Justice for those who follow the law and don't hurt people.