REDEEM Act offers sweeping reforms to help non-violent returning citizens re-integrate into society

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) today re-introduced the REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act), a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help fix our broken criminal justice system.  While the U.S. is home to less than five percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for almost 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Our crippled system wastes massive sums of taxpayer dollars to make our streets less, not more safe. 

The REDEEM Act seeks to fix this broken system with seven major reforms that will help people convicted of nonviolent crimes successfully re-enter society. It would:

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1)   Allow adults convicted of nonviolent crimes to petition a court to have their records sealed one year after the completion of their sentence;

2)   Automatically seal and, in some cases, expunge juvenile records;

3)   Incentivize states to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old;

4)  Significantly restrict room confinement of juveniles;

5)  Lift the lifetime SNAP and TANF bans on people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes;

6)  Combat gender disparities in the federal juvenile system; and         

7)  Improve the accuracy of the FBI background check system.

“We cannot continue with our current system, as the War on Drugs has disproportionately affected minorities and our inner cities, and tens of thousands of young men and women have become trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration,” Sen. Paul said. “We can help many of these young people finally break that cycle and get a fresh start by passing the REDEEM Act to reform our criminal justice system, expunge records after time served, and prevent non-violent crimes from becoming a permanent blot on one’s record.” 

“Our criminal justice system is broken and we need to take steps to fix it,” Sen. Booker said. “Not only does our country have the highest incarceration rate in the world, but our prison population is disproportionately comprised of Americans of color. As the Mayor of Newark, I saw the effects of this broken system firsthand. The REDEEM Act is an important step in righting this injustice. Our bipartisan bill will help Americans who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes get back on their feet, reduce rates of recidivism, and cut costs to taxpayers.”

“As a nation, our goal for those leaving incarceration should be to help their successful and productive reintegration into society,” Rep. Cummings said. “The REDEEM Act helps ease barriers that too often hold people back as they attempt to re-establish their lives outside prison.  These reforms will help to provide a second chance for jobs and housing for those working to move beyond their criminal record.”