A duo of high-profile, first-term senators, Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY), are announcing legislation today they say could overhaul the criminal justice system, Politico reports. Their REDEEM Act would encourage states to change policies to direct youth away from the adult criminal justice system, automatically expunge or seal criminal records of juveniles who committed nonviolent crimes, and limit solitary confinement of children, except in rare circumstances.
The legislation creates a path for adults with nonviolent offenses to seal their criminal records and restores food stamp and welfare benefits for low-level drug offenders who have served their sentences. The senators touted the legislation as a smarter use of taxpayer funds while more effectively focusing rehabilitation efforts for young individuals to help them avoid committing future crimes. Paul said the criminal system has kept scores of young men and women in a “cycle of poverty and incarceration.”