Rand Paul, Cory Booker Join Forces on Nonviolent Criminal Bill

Image: Rand Paul, Cory Booker Join Forces on Nonviolent Criminal Bill Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, and former Newark, N.J., mayor, now U.S Sen. Cory Booker.

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 11:02 AM

By John Blosser

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Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker are teaming up to co-sponsor legislation that, if approved, could change what happens when nonviolent criminals, especially young ones, get past their legal troubles, Politico reported.

The REDEEM Act, or the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, attempts to keep youthful nonviolent offenders out of the adult justice system and erase their criminal records.

The act also would allow nonviolent criminal adults to erase job-denying criminal records and allow them to obtain welfare and food stamp benefits, according to Politico.

"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 said in a statement.

Paul, also in a statement, said: "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."

It’s not the first time the two have held right and left hands across the aisle. Paul, who is considering a possible presidential bid in 2016, and Booker co-sponsored an amendment in June to block funds from the Justice Department for battling medical marijuana in states that allow it, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Paul actually opposed Booker’s election by campaigning in favor of his opponent, Steve Lonegan, in last year’s special election, but Booker has singled out Paul as someone he hoped to work with regarding changing national drug policies.

Paul said the current criminal system has kept young nonviolent criminals in a "cycle of poverty and incarceration" by keeping them from gainful employment because of criminal convictions on their records.

The REDEEM Act encourages states to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, would automatically erase the criminal records of youths convicted of nonviolent crimes before the age of 15, and seal the records of those who commit nonviolent crimes at a later age, as well as making it possible for nonviolent adult offenders to petition the courts to expunge their records, according to The Associated Press.
 
The act also would limit the placing of minors in solitary confinement in most circumstances.

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