Because no life is beyond God's reach.
Last Wednesday, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, and Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced the Renew Act of 2017. This bill allows returning citizens to have the assurance that their past will not always limit their future success. Allowing young people who have paid their debt to society to have a fresh start encourages them to be integrated, productive members of society and make more responsible choices. This, in turn, will promote public safety.
Currently under federal law, a person 21 years old or younger who is convicted of low-level, first time, simple drug possession may be eligible to have their conviction erased from their record, provided they have successfully completed one year of probation. The Renew Act of 2017 aims to raise the age of those eligible from 21 to 25.
WHY IS THE RENEW ACT OF 2017 IMPORTANT?
The Renew Act of 2017 advances Prison Fellowship's belief that no life is beyond God's reach.
"People with a criminal record face a serious set of collateral consequences that will follow them long after they have paid their debt to society," explains Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of advocacy & public policy at Prison Fellowship. "A task as simple as obtaining a government-issued identification card or securing gainful employment can be tremendously difficult."
WHY SUPPORT SECOND CHANCES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE?
One in four Americans has a criminal record, and with that record comes over 48,000 legal restrictions on education, employment, and housing. Studies show that many of these Americans were arrested by the age of 23.
As The Heritage Foundation's John Malcolm points out, "Common sense tells us [that] young people are capable of making rash mistakes."
"Collateral consequences are often mandatorily imposed without regard to the type of crime committed, the time that has passed since the offense, or a nexus to public safety," DeRoche says. These consequences, especially when applied to young Americans, denies returning citizens the chance to become healthy and productive members of our society.
"This modest and narrowly-tailored reform will allow more young people to move forward without the stigma that comes with carrying a criminal record, so they can reach their God-given potential," says DeRoche. "Communities stand to benefit from the contributions of those who have paid their debt to society."