Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul try to redeem lives lost to prisons

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good morning:

Senators Cory Booker (D, NJ) and Rand Paul (R, KY) are trying to redeem lives lost to prisons. Two days ago they jointly introduced the Redeem Act with the intent of reducing recidivism by eliminating job-disqualifying information in criminal-record checks. Although they disagree on the role that government should play in our lives, they agree that securing a job after release from prison is the best insurance against reoffending and returning to prison.

The economist.com reports,

“Our criminal justice system is broken,” said Mr Booker this week. This is an understatement. America is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. More than 2m Americans are locked up at any given time, more than half of them in state prisons. This is costly, at $29,000 per federal inmate per year and more for state prisoners—about the price of sending each one to an Ivy League university. Nearly half of all state prisoners are mouldering in jail for non-violent crimes. Released prisoners struggle to find work, and are often back behind bars in no time.

/snip/

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record,” said Mr Paul. When former prisoners are looking for jobs, the highest hurdle they often face is the background check. The Redeem Act would improve the accuracy of FBI background checks to reduce false positives, seal up the records of non-violent criminals, and potentially expunge them for juveniles. In ten states youngsters under 18 can be tried as adults, which can ruin their employability, bar them from public benefits and ban them from voting for the rest of their life. The bill creates incentives for states to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18. It would also ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, except in extreme cases, and exempt non-violent drug offenders from the lifetime ban on welfare assistance that applies to many felons.

This effort is a good first step, but we need a full employment economy with a guaranteed minimum wage that covers basic living expenses and health insurance so that a person can live with dignity.

Life with dignity is the best solution to social problems.

Any effort that fails to fix the economy constitutes mere tinkering amounting to little more than a proverbial drop in the bucket.

This is our 1125th post. If you appreciate what we do, please toss some money into the hat. We need it to keep the lights on.

Thank you,

Fred

4 Responses to Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul try to redeem lives lost to prisons

  1. Heck, I have a 37-year-old misdemeanor for possession of marijuana that never gave me any trouble as far as jobs go – until after 9-11.

    I figure we need major reform – once someone has done their time or fines, etc. that record – even the arrest – should be expunged entirely

    Americans seem to love to punish people forever and it really only creates more pain and frustration. Many countries have a regular schedule in which criminal records fall away – plus, many comparable nations have stronger privacy laws as well and many things that are public record here are not in other places.

    • John says:

      I AGREE, AMERICA’S LAWS ARE BEHIND. EUROPE PASTED THE RIGHT TO FORGET LAW. BOOKER AND NORCROSS ARE BEHIND THE TIMES JUST LIKE THESE LAWS. THEY SHOULD BE REFORMING THE RIGHT TO FORGET. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NJ GOES TO DC. STUPID AND DUMB MEET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

  2. Malisha says:

    It’s so hard to get life with dignity even OUT of prison.
    We have been so devoted to power, money=power, gun=power, corruption=power, ownership=power,

    It is incompatible with dignity. Bullying=power. The opposite of dignity.

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