Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have come together to introduce legislation that would reform the current justice system to allow low-level and non-violent offenders a better chance at leading a normal life after incarceration.
The legislation, titled Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, or the REDEEM Act, would allow adults who served sentences for nonviolent crimes to have their records sealed, which would provide an improved likelihood of gaining a good job. Additionally, nonviolent offenders would be eligible to acquire welfare and food stamps after serving their sentences.
The legislation would also “automatically expunge the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes before they turn 15 and automatically seal the records of those who commit them after.”
The Act would encourage states where the criminal responsibility age is under 18 to be raised to 18 by offering preference to those states when they apply for federal community police grants. This would potentially cut down on sending “countless kids into the unforgiving adult criminal system.” The Act also places limits on solitary confinement of youth offenders.
“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Many of these young people could escape this trap if criminal justice were reformed, if records were expunged after time served, and if nonviolent crimes did not become a permanent blot preventing employment,” said Paul in a statement.
Said Booker of his alliance with Paul for the REDEEM Act, “I will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey, and this bipartisan legislation does just that.” Booker also said that this legislation “will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders re-offend.”
Despite Paul supporting Booker’s opponent during the 2013 special Senate election, the REDEEM Act is the second partnership from Booker and Paul. In June, the two senators teamed up to sponsor an amendment to a Justice Department spending bill that would stop the DEA from using funds to go after medical marijuana users and their providers in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.