Target: Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell
Goal: Help shift the focus of the criminal justice system from incarceration to rehabilitation for youth and nonviolent offenders
In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, senators Cory Booker (Democrat, New Jersey) and Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) have teamed up to craft a new bill focusing on reforming America’s criminal justice system. Called the REDEEM Act, the purpose of the bill is to shift the focus of the criminal justice system for youth and nonviolent offenders from incarceration to rehabilitation, allowing people better access to jobs and government aid, and thus breaking the vicious cycle of incarceration and recidivism that has characterized American society for too long.
Among other things, the proposal encourages states to avoid prosecuting minors as adults, allows for the the criminal records of nonviolent juvenile offenders to be sealed or expunged, and establishes a system to allow other nonviolent offenders to petition a court to have their records sealed from employer criminal background checks.
According to Senator Paul, “the biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration. 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.”
Senator Booker, who campaigned on addressing the challenges of inner city and minority youth, added that the 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.”
Since the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, yet holds 25 percent of the world’s inmates, prison reform is undeniably important and long overdue. Justice will never be served when a youthful mistake or racial profiling can lead to lifelong economic disadvantage. Sign this petition to urge the Senate to pass the REDEEM Act without delay.
Dear Senators Reid and McConnell,
The reformation of our criminal justice system is an issue whose importance cannot be overstated. We cannot call our country just or free when we hold one full quarter of the world’s prison population, or when a black child can be sent to prison for engaging in the exact same activity that rich white entrepreneurs are making millions from at the same moment.
The kind of reform proposed by the REDEEM Act will make our country more fair and improve the lives of millions of low-level offenders and juveniles. I urge you not to delay voting on this essential bill, and encourage its quick passage and swift enactment.
[Your Name Here]
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