On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617, introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). The bill would expand the qualifying age for expungement of a simple possession conviction for nonviolent, low-level, first-time drug offenders.
A criminal record is often a roadblock for those who are desperate for a second chance to become productive, taxpaying citizens. One bad decision can prevent an individual from getting a job or obtain financial aid for college. It can even make it difficult for a first-time offender to put a roof over his or her head. Sadly, what often happens when an individual is denied a second chance is that he or she re-offends.
Under current law, 18 U.S. Code § 3607(c), offenders under the age of 21 can apply for and receive an expungement order for a first-time, nonviolent offense. Research has shown that the brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, affecting decision-making and risk assessment abilities.
The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order. The criminal record of an eligible individual would still be available to the Department of Justice if necessary for future proceedings.
Several states, including traditionally conservative states such as Texas, have enhanced expungement or nondisclosure statutes to provide a second chance for eligible offenders. The Renew Act reflects those efforts, allowing for opportunities for young people who have made a mistake to move on with their lives and become productive, taxpaying citizens.
For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks