Bipartisan REDEEM Act would connect young Americans to the labor market, reduce the rate of recidivism

by Melanie Anderson   •  

Among the millions of youth who are disconnected from their communities and who are unable to access education and workforce development opportunities are hundreds of thousands of young adults who have spent time in the juvenile or adult justice systems. They face extremely steep odds in rebuilding their lives once they re-enter public life and are at heightened risk for permanent disconnection from their community and the economy.

Policymakers are aiming to reduce the number of incarcerated youth without jeopardizing public safety, moving away from punitive policies and practices across the country. There is mounting bipartisan support to broaden this effort.

Yesterday, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act. This legislation would remove barriers to re-entry and put young adults on a pathway to a career and productive lives.

Specifically, the REDEEM Act would:

  • Create a pathway for youth and adults to have certain records sealed or expunged for federal offenses ;
  • Incentivize states to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old;
  • Lift the lifetime ban on receiving SNAP and TANF benefits for individuals with certain convictions and create a pathway for other individuals to have their right to receive benefits restored; and
  • Significantly restrict room confinement of juveniles.

The REDEEM Act is intended to help formerly adjudicated individuals, especially young adults, become more self-reliant and less likely to commit future crimes.

In today’s economy, we can’t afford to sideline any of our talent. Legislation such as the REDEEM Act would connect young Americans to the labor market and reduce the rate of recidivism, thereby strengthening our communities and saving millions of dollars in incarceration costs.

We support efforts like the REDEEM Act that will strengthen our communities and hope other Members of Congress will support Senators Booker and Paul and Representative Cummings on this important legislation.

Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

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