A bipartisan bill was filed in Congress last month that is good for kids and even has the potential to reduce poverty. Sounds too good to be true, but it happened. Kentucky’s own Senator Rand Paul filed The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act with Democratic co-sponsor Senator Cory Booker. The bill makes changes to both the adult and youth justice systems that essentially allow people to move on with their lives and have a better shot at employment after being held accountable for nonviolent offenses.
One major component of the proposal for youth would keep mistakes that result in the child going to court from following the child into adulthood as he or she applies for college or for jobs. The REDEEM Act would automatically seal records for nonviolent offenses three years after the child completes any probation, detention, or court supervision. When a young person turns 18, records of nonviolent offenses youth committed before age 15 would be wiped clean.
Beyond impacting youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system, the REDEEM Act can also have a significant impact on children via parental employment. Having a criminal record creates a significant barrier for people seeking stable employment. The REDEEM Act allows adults to seek to have their records sealed if they are not convicted, or if convicted, one year after completed served time, probation, or supervised release. With the high number of children in Kentucky who have a parent who has been incarcerated, allowing adult criminal records to be sealed has the potential to improve the economic security of Kentucky children when their parents are able to find employment.
An op-ed in yesterday’s Louisville Courier-Journal by Scott Jennings points out that Senator Rand Paul follows in another Kentuckians’ footsteps in working for federal reforms to improve how we as a nation handle nonviolent offenses. We at Kentucky Youth Advocates applaud Senator Rand Paul for picking up the mantle again to make common sense improvements that will allow youth to move past mistakes after they’ve been held accountable and allow adults to overcome the barrier to a job created by a record.