WASHINGTON, DC- Sullivan University in Louisville today hosted a forum on the REDEEM Act, the criminal justice reform legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Rand Paul and Cory Booker.

Sens. Paul and Booker participated in the forum via videoconference. Video of their remarks can be found here.

“We still have, in many ways, two Americas, where people are treated differently,” said Sen. Paul. “I don’t think it’s on purpose, but people are inadvertently treated differently. The racial outcome of the War on Drugs has disproportionately incarcerated folks. I think there is a whole world open to us to reform.”

“Twenty-five percent of the human beings that are in prison on the planet are in the United States of America,” said Sen. Booker. “Chillingly, 75 percent of those are non-violent offenders. We – as a nation that believes in freedom and empowering individuals to be successful – should evidence a justice system that should be the envy of the world. We need to have change.”

The forum was led by Professor Emeritus J. Price Foster, University of Louisville Department of Justice Administration, and Billy Easley, an attorney and member of Sen. Paul’s Washington, D.C. staff. It was held at the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy on Gardiner Lane in Louisville.

Sullivan University System President Glenn Sullivan said the university was honored to host the forum.

“Culturally, we believe in redemption, but as a society there are too many people who don’t have the opportunity to redeem themselves,” President Sullivan said. “A felony conviction can prevent someone from getting a job, from getting on with their lives after making a mistake.”

“The REDEEM Act follows with what we are dedicated to at Sullivan University – giving people the opportunities to better and improve their lives,” he said. “At Sullivan, we do it through education and career and job training. Sens. Paul and Booker are trying to do it by giving people a second chance. We applaud the Senators for filing this legislation and confronting this very important issue.”

Forum panelists included:

  • Libby Mills, Executive Director, Retired Juvenile Justice Practitioner;
  • Mike Barry, President, People Advocating Recovery;
  • John Rees, Retired Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Corrections;
  • Beth McMahon, Chief, Juvenile Trial Division, Metro Louisville Office of the Public Defender.
  • Dan Caudill, Owner, Caudill Seed Company
  • Dr. Terry Brooks, Executive Director, Kentucky Youth Advocates

The REDEEM Act will give Americans convicted of non-violent crimes a second chance at the American dream. The legislation will help prevent youthful mistakes from turning into a lifetime of crime and help adults who commit non-violent crimes become more self-reliant and less likely to commit future crimes.

The REDEEM Act was first introduced last year. Sens. Paul and Booker intend to re-introduce the legislation in 2015 and bring it to a vote in the Senate. The original press release outlining the REDEEM Act can be found here.

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