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Juvenile Justice Reforms Prominent in New Bill by U.S. Senators Booker and Paul

By Ryan Schill
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Two first-term senators from opposite sides of the aisle introduced legislation Tuesday banning the use of juvenile solitary confinement in federal facilities, along with several other reforms that would impact juveniles offenders, The Washington Post reports.

New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, who sponsored The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (or REDEEM) Act, say it will cut government spending, reduce recidivism among adults and juveniles and increase public safety.

“The REDEEM Act will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways,” Booker said in a news release. “It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders reoffend.”

The proposal encourages states to raise the age in which juveniles can tried as adults to 18. States implementing this reform would be given preference when applying for federal community policing grants.

Booker and Paul also proposed that the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes be sealed or expunged depending on the youth’s age when the crime was committed.

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record,” Paul said. “Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.”

The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prison population, a statistic the pair of senators cite as evidence that sweeping reforms are necessary to fix a broken criminal justice system.

According to Politico, the bill, which also includes a number of reforms to the criminal justice system, is unlikely to advance this year.

(Featured Photos: (L-R) Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Corey Booker team up to create a bill addressing juvenile justice.)

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