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July 08, 2014 4:20 PM The Paul-Booker Bill

By Ed Kilgore

When he’s not demagoguing about the Middle East or offering revisionist theories of the civil rights movement, Rand Paul can occasionally be a useful member of the Senate. That’s true of the bipartisan legislation he’s cosponsoring with Corey Booker to take a first step towards criminal justice reform at the federal level. Politico’s Seung Min Kim has a brief description:

The measure, called the REDEEM Act, has several pillars: It encourages states to change policies so children are directed away from the adult criminal justice system; automatically expunges or seals — depending on their age — criminal records of juveniles who committed nonviolent crimes; and limits solitary confinement of children, except in rare circumstances.
The legislation also creates a path for adults with nonviolent offenses to seal their criminal records and restores food stamp and welfare benefits for low-level drug offenders who have served their sentences.

This is obviously limited legislation reflecting the limited role of the feds in most sentencing and post-sentencing policies. But I have to say any Republican senator willing to sponsor anything that restores SNAP and TANF benefits to anybody is showing some guts.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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