President Trump has declared April 2018 as Second Chance Month. The President stated, “During Second Chance Month, our Nation emphasizes the need to prevent crime on our streets, to respect the rule of law by prosecuting individuals who break the law, and to provide opportunities for people with criminal records to earn an honest second chance. Affording those who have been held accountable for their crimes an opportunity to become contributing members of society is a critical element of criminal justice that can reduce our crime rates and prison populations, decrease burdens to the American taxpayer, and make America safer.” Unfortunately, for those with federal convictions, there is currently no federal law that allows for the sealing of these convictions. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
The formal recognition of April as “Second Chance Month” presents the perfect opportunity to advocate for needed reforms to our criminal justice system, and work to reduce the stigma associated with a conviction and give people a true chance at redemption. The REDEEM Act, a bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R, KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D, NJ) and in the House by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D, MD), would give those convicted of nonviolent federal crimes the chance to petition the court to have their records sealed. Change will not come easy, as there are those opposed to even the most basic reforms. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has voiced his opposition to reforms. However, Jared Kushner, senior advisor to the President and the President’s son-in-law, is an advocate for criminal justice reforms and has worked in support of reform-minded legislation.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has made is easy to contact your representatives in Congress and voice support for the REDEEM Act. Simply click THIS LINK to be directed to the NACDL website where you can enter your information and contact your representatives to voice support for the REDEEM Act.
The Criminal Justice Section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) recently passed a resolution supporting the creation of a second chance law at the federal level. As Co-Chairman of NYSBA’s Criminal Justice Section Sealing Committee, CGMB Partner Rick Collins not only has played a critical role in the passage of the state law which now enables deserving ex-offenders to have their criminal records sealed in New York, but is now playing a role in working to make criminal record sealing a reality on a federal level, as well. Check back here regularly or call us at 516-294-0300 for further developments in this area as federal record sealing continues to move forward, as well as for the latest news and updates about criminal record sealing in New York and how you or someone you know can gain a second chance and fresh start in life.