There is a new bipartisan effort to fix parts of broken criminal justice system. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a broad reaching bill to make our criminal justice system fairer and less destructive.
The REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) is focused on helping people who committed non-violent crimes better integrate into the community and find gain full employment to reduce the chance they will commit offenses in the future. If it succeeds, the bill should save the government money while improving the criminal justice system.
The bill has several big provision according to the Paul’s office:
- Offers adults way to seal non-violent criminal records
- Incentivizes states to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18-years-old
- Allows for sealing and expungement of juvenile records
- Restricts use of juvenile solitary confinement
- Lifts ban on SNAP and TANF benefits for low-level drug offenders
A criminal record can make it extremely difficult for an individual to find work, which creates a dangerous feedback loop. The less likely an individual is to find work the more likely they are to engage in black market business activities to try to get by. This increases the chance they will be arrested again, and that makes it even more difficult to find legitimate work in the future. The senators hope to break this destructive cycle.
Since Congress is only really in D.C. for a few more weeks before they switch to full campaign mode the chance of this bill advancing this session are probably small, but both Paul and Booker should be back after November. They have time to steadily build support for these reforms.
Photo of Rand Paul by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license