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Letter: A clean slate

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State governments across our country have begun prioritizing the issue of criminal justice reform.

Four years ago, Congress passed the First Step Act, which assisted non-violent offenders getting back on their feet. Today, all 50 states are supporting the Clean Slate Act, which allows certain non-violent offenders, who have completed their sentences, the opportunity to better quality for work, education, and housing.

The federal government needs to do the same with the federal criminal code. The Kyle Rittenhouse case in Wisconsin is a good example how prosecutors can politicize with the media’s help. Rittenhouse was lucky he had the resources to fight it and win.

Plea bargaining is not the answer. Although the defendants may avoid prison, they have a criminal record for the rest of their lives.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pennsylvania, have introduced the Clean Slate Act at the federal level. Such a bill could help some 70 million Americans who have committed nonviolent crimes like possession of marijuana or shoplifting. Endorsing this bill are: the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for American Progress, and Americans for Tax Reform.

Congressional leaders need to call this bill up for a vote. There’s bipartisan support. With 91% of Americans agreeing that the criminal justice system needs reform, there is no reason for this issue to linger. Just get-r-done!

Mike Steffen

Moline

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