Should a Felon be Penalized for Life with the term “Felon?” A word about the REDEEM Act

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image4104950A person with a felony in his background carries that title with him for life.  I think its wrong.  Once a person “does the time,” what exactly is the point of the label?  It creates a situation from which that person can never recover.

I get some flack with my Republican friends (yes….I have a few) when I bring up this topic.  Their view is that this is the punishment they get, if they don’t like it, then don’t commit the crime.  But some people become felons when they are still young and I would hope that we’d want this person to turn his life around, and become a productive member of society.  But just how does he do that when he carries the label of “felon” everywhere he goes? No one wants to support this person.  No one wants this person to commit future crimes.  We all want him to get a job, be productive, learn from his mistakes.  But no one wants to hire a felon either.

I read an article the other day about the REDEEM Act, introduced by Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul.  This Act would lift the ban on benefits of some people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and all the sealing of criminal records.  It’s a good idea, and long overdue.  According to the article, the majority of criminals are locked up for non-violent offenses, particularly drugs.  This bill would allow the prisons to lower populations, and I believe, lower crime.

A person coming out of jail needs to support himself somehow.  If they have to go through life being called felons, forever, then exactly how are they expected to work?  To support their families?

I’m an employer, so I appreciate having some knowledge of employee’s backgrounds when I’m doing the hiring.  But employers have ways to determine past employment positions, and the REDEEM Act is for non-violent offenders.  I’m not talking about hiring someone as a maintenance man in your condo who has been convicted of rape, but shouldn’t a kid that was 17 who sold drugs be given a chance to make something of himself?  The way the current system works, this 17 year old has no future, and so he will re-offend, since he needs to survive.  This bill is a win-win for everyone.  Felons have the opportunity to work and be productive, and we either don’t have to pay to keep them in prison when they re-offend, or support them through government assistance.

 

 

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