On behalf of Youth Caucus of America, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617, introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). The bill would expand the qualifying age for expungement of a simple possession conviction for nonviolent, low-level, first-time drug offenders. The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order.
A criminal record is often a barrier for those who are seeking a second chance to become productive, taxpaying citizens. One bad decision can prevent an individual from obtaining a decent paying job or financial aid for college to advance their education. It can even make it difficult for a first-time offender to put a roof over his or her head.
Under current law, 18 U.S. Code § 3607(c), offenders under the age of 21 can apply for and receive an expungement order for a first-time, nonviolent offense. The National Conference of State Legislatures Neurobiological Development Research states, that the brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, affecting decision-making and risk assessment abilities. Generally, the parietal lobes of the brain fully develop by age 16, but the temporal lobes are still developing and the frontal lobe continues to develop into the early 20s.
The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order. The criminal record of an eligible individual would still be available to the Department of Justice if necessary for future proceedings.
The Renew Act allows for opportunities for young people who have made a mistake to move on with their lives and become productive, taxpaying citizens.
For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617.
Coby J. Owens
Chief Executive Officer
Youth Caucus of America