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Sullivan University hosted a forum designed to gather input and information on the criminal justice reform legislation that has been filed in Congress by U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

The REDEEM (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) 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.

Sen. Paul said he and Sen. Booker intend to re-introduce the legislation early in 2015 and bring it to a vote in the Senate. The original press release outlining the REDEEM Act can be found here:

“Deficiencies in our system have been festering for decades,” Sen. Paul said. “The REDEEM Act will give many Americans a second chance at the American dream and help prevent youthful mistakes from turning into a downward spiral.”

The forum 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 REDEEM Act 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. Senators. 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.”

The REDEEM Act forum included approximately 30 invited guests who are engaged in criminal and juvenile justice interacting with a panel of criminal justice professionals, employers and legislators. Students enrolled in the Sullivan University Criminal Justice program were also in attendance.

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 DC staff.

Panelists included:

• Kentucky Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee;
• Libby Mills, Executive Director, Retired Juvenile Justice Practitioner;
• Mike Barry, 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.

The forum focused on three specific provisions of the legislation: providing a way to seal records of non-violent criminal acts of adults; expunging and sealing juvenile records; and restricting the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.

“This is an exceptional opportunity in which criminal justice professionals have an opportunity to have a meaningful influence on the provisions of significant legislation in our field and discuss reducing barriers for offenders as they seek successful re-entry into society,” Professor Foster said.

Sen. Paul said he is grateful to Sullivan University and the others who participated in the forum.
“I greatly appreciate Sullivan University hosting this forum and thank everyone who is helping us.”