WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) issued the following statement after his bipartisan Fair Chance Act was passed out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The bill now heads to the Senate floor. This is the third time the bill has been sent to the Senate floor.
The Fair Chance Act would give formerly incarcerated individuals a fairer chance at finding a job by prohibiting the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment.
"There are countless collateral consequences of mass incarceration and one of the most severe is the barriers placed on formerly incarcerated individuals when they try to find a job. Our bipartisan, common sense bill helps reduce those barriers and ease the transition for people behind bars as they adjust to life outside of prison."
Throughout the country, cities and states have implemented fair chance polices to remove a significant barrier to employment for people with criminal records who currently have to "check the box" about a past criminal conviction on a job application. Thirty-three states and over 150 cities and counties have taken action, giving formerly incarcerated people a fairer chance to secure employment.
For specifics on the Fair Chance Act, click here.
Driven by his experience living and working in Newark and serving on its city council and as its mayor, Booker has made reforming our broken criminal justice system a key legislative priority during his time in the Senate. Over the past five years, Booker has introduced numerous criminal justice reform proposals, including: the REDEEM Act, the CARERS Act, the PRIDE Act, the MERCY Act, the Equal Justice Under Law Act, the Gideon Act, the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act, and the Marijuana Justice Act.
He was also a key architect of the most sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system in decades, the First Step Act, which was signed into law on December 21. In particular, Booker was instrumental in adding key sentencing provisions to the package after opposing the House-passed version of the First Step Act first released in May 2018.
The sentencing provisions in the final bill include: reducing the "three strikes" penalty from life in prison to 25 years; giving judges greater discretion to circumvent mandatory minimum sentences when warranted; eliminating the so-called "stacking" of mandatory minimum sentence enhancements related to certain firearm offenses; and making retroactive a 2010 law that reduced the egregious sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine -- disparities that overwhelmingly and disproportionately affect African-Americans.
Booker also successfully fought to include provisions that effectively eliminate the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal supervision.