The Market Institute President Charles Sauer has a new piece on criminal justice reform in the Washington Examiner’s Restoring America series.
“I was arrested. Yes, I broke the law. No, I didn’t hurt anyone, steal anything, or endanger my community.
I had an expired license plate and a few tickets that I hadn’t paid. I had broken the law, but should those mistakes affect the rest of my life? Fortunately for me, they didn’t. For many who commit nonviolent crimes, however, being arrested and incarcerated does affect them for a very long time. Employers are less likely to hire someone after they have been incarcerated — making it harder for them to take care of themselves and leading to higher recidivism rates. This is a problem that can be solved.
With that in mind, the question now being debated on Capitol Hill is if certain nonviolent offenders should have their records cleared after serving their time or being acquitted. If a person has committed a nonviolent crime and served their time or been arrested but not convicted, should employers be able to see their prior history?
Well, states such as Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas have all seen crime decline after implementing criminal justice reform. So the evidence points toward giving this population a chance. Recognizing this reality, a wide bipartisan coalition in Congress, from Jim Banks and Dan Crenshaw to David Trone and Ann Kuster, is supporting the Clean Slate Act — a bill that will bring the idea of expungement for nonviolent former offenders to the federal level.
The legislation will ensure that the individual, who served his or her time, will get to lead a productive life. The economy will get a producer, and the taxpayers will have someone else paying taxes instead of someone that their taxes are paying for. We aren’t talking about little numbers either. The Center for Economic Policy Research estimates that we lose up to $87 billion a year due to this problem.
We can’t end crime. We can’t end stupidity. But we can create a criminal justice system that works instead of a system that discourages second chances and costs us all more money.
This commonsense bill has the support of many on both the Right and Left, including Americans for Tax Reform and the Brennan Center for Justice. Just weeks ago, the bill’s sponsors in the House, Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Lisa Blunt Rochester, hosted a well-attended Capitol luncheon for their colleagues that received a good deal of attention and support.
It is good that Congress seems to be moving full speed ahead. Now, it just needs to finish the job.”