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Cory Booker works to reform criminal justice system

Sen. Cory Booker may be relatively new to the Senate, but that doesn't mean that he is taking things slowly. The freshman senator from New Jersey has recently announced that he and Rand Paul will be co-sponsoring a bill that would make it easier to expunge the records of nonviolent juvenile offenders. Since a criminal record can seriously hinder a young person's opportunities, even a record for something as minor as drug possession, this kind of legislation could go a long way to help young people.

The bill is called the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act and specifically targets those states that try juveniles as adults. By offering them federal funding, the goal is to limit adult criminal charges to those people 18 years of age and older.

As the title of the bill suggests, Sen. Booker believes that expunging juvenile offenders' records after their punishment has been served would help them to obtain work. Since many employers in New Jersey ask their potential hires to go through background checks, those people who make hiring decisions are often privy to whether an applicant has committed a crime in the past.

Though at the state level, Gov. Chris Christie has also worked to reform the criminal justice system by focusing on drug treatment programs in lieu of sending nonviolent offenders to prison. Again, if offenders of any age can avoid developing a criminal record, they generally have more opportunities to work, get an education or find decent housing after their sentences are served.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul Team Up On Nonviolent Offender Rules," Heather Haddon, July 8, 2014

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