REDEEM Act Could Give Young Offenders a Second Chance
It is not a secret. Youthful offenses can create a lifetime of trouble. For some, it may mean that they never emerge from the penal system. For others, a criminal record can live well beyond an individual’s growth into maturity. Adults also make mistakes and live with the consequences. They are forever be haunted by the past and their struggles to move forward are often thwarted. Can this be changed?
Newly elected New Jersey Senator Corey Booker and his colleague Senator Rand Paul seem to think so. They are both junior senators; however, they sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Booker is a Democrat; Paul is a Republican. Nevertheless, both recognize a flaw in the current criminal justice system. They want to see a change in the way non-violent criminal acts are reported to prospective employers. Booker and Paul opine that second chances will cut down on the number of people who return to jail. For this reason, they have introduced the REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment).
Under the proposed law, the records of juveniles convicted of non-violent crimes would be automatically expunged once the minor turns 15. Additionally, records would be sealed for those who commit non-violent crimes after their 15th birthday but before their 18th birthday. Another provision of the law provides adults with an easier path to make a court application to seal their records.
One of the purposes of the REDEEM Act is to create a system which encourage states to raise the age when a person can be deemed criminally responsible as an adult. New Jersey is one of only 10 states which allows someone under 18 to be tried in adult criminal court. Although the crimes must be significant, juveniles over the age of 14 may be subject to harsher penalties associated with the adult court.
What is the goal of this bill? The focus is on second chances. Employers often request criminal checks for new hires. This would level the playing field for those with old mistakes. The fact that someone had a marijuana possession conviction ten years ago might prohibit the individual from securing a job. The REDEEM Act seeks to eliminate that concern. If records are sealed or expunged, they are not available.
Criminal activity is often linked to poverty. As more people are eligible for work, the hope is that they will take advantage of their second chance. This should substantially cut down on government spending in prosecution and maintaining prisoners.
Do you a criminal record that you wish to see gone? We can help! Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, PC today for a free consultation.