Miracles are possible. In the midst of a Congress and a President that butt heads and spin wheels when it comes to progress, two first-term senators from opposing sides have joined forces to roll out legislation that comprehensively overhauls parts of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Senators Corey Booker (D-New Jersey) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) drafted the measure, called the REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment).
The measure has several key components.
- It encourages states to change policies so children are directed away from the adult criminal justice system
- It automatically expunges or seals - depending on their age - criminal records of juveniles who committed nonviolent crimes.
- It discourages solitary confinement of children, except in rare circumstances
- It creates a path for adults with nonviolent offenses to seal their criminal records and restores food stamp and welfare benefits for low-level drug offenders who have served their sentences.
The senators say the premise of the REDEEM Act embraces effective rehabilitation for young individuals with the objective being to curb repeat criminal behavior.
Paul is known as a critic of some of the current criminal justice system's components. Most recently, he introduced legislation that would restore voting rights for nonviolent felons in federal elections
Booker, one of the "new kids on the Washington political block" says he will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey and this bipartisan legislation does just that.