Federal legislation has been introduced aimed to help people with criminal records get a second chance at a successful life.
The bill would accomplish three main goals: a method to clean up a federal criminal record, improve accuracy of FBI background checks and change harsh lifetime bans on public assistance for people with felony drug convictions.
The measure, titled the REDEEM Act, was introduced March 10 by Senators Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.
The REDEEM act would clean up criminal records by allowing people to put their criminal records behind them by expungement or sealing of the records. Twenty-three states broadened expungement and sealing laws between 2009 and 2014.
REDEEM would seal federal nonviolent records such as drug convictions and arrests that did not lead to a conviction. Some 600,000 job seekers received an inaccurate FBI check in 2012, Vallas reported. REDEEM would require the FBI to review each record for accuracy before it is provided to a requesting party.
|“Every year, more than 600,000
American citizens are released
into society after serving their time”|
The bill would also reform the outdated lifetime ban on public assistance for people with drug convictions. This would change the ban by the 1996 welfare law of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
It is another step in criminal-justice reforms that has garnered bipartisan support in the nation’s capital, wrote Rebecca Vallas in a March 11 article in The Nation.
Organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for American Progress have teamed up with conservative groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Freedom Works and the Koch brothers, Vallas reported.
The bipartisan focus in Washington has centered on sentencing reform and reformation of the overly harsh mandatory minimums. The efforts include the Smarter Sentencing Act.
Every year, more than 600,000 American citizens are released into society after serving their time, the article said. Millions more end up with criminal records without doing time through arrests that do not lead to convictions or through probation-only sentences.
Between 70 million and 100 million citizens have some type of criminal record, Vallas wrote. The rise of technology, internet, state and federal policies can stand in the way of employment, housing, education, building good credit and even attaining a meager public assistance stipend, the story said.