New proposal would decrease criminal penalties for marijuana arrests in Alabama.

Text Chris Reid at 205-913-7406 for a quick answer to any legal question!

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker jointly proposed S. 675/H.R. 1672, also known as the REDEEM Act. Through the act, the two men aim to significantly enhance the country’s criminal justice system. The issue of criminal justice reform has become a largely bipartisan issue, as shown in the teaming up Paul and Booker. With the United States comprising 5% of the global population and 25% of the world’s prisoners, it is clear something must be done.

Paul explains, "The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration." Through the REDEEM Act, the senators hope to help non-violent criminals return to society and more easily secure a job. One way this is to be done is through expungements. The REDEEM Act would allow juveniles who committed non-violent crimes at fourteen years old or younger to apply to have their record sealed or in some cases cleaned. The Act places limits on the solitary confinement of juveniles; this was done in the hopes of protecting individuals’ mental health down the road. According to Booker, the act should improve the accuracy of the FBI’s background check system. This should help individuals to get a job later in life. Additionally, the act would lift the lifetime ban from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) that has been placed on a myriad of non-violent drug offenders.

There is also a supposed economic benefit to this reform effort. The United States spends $80 billion a year housing 2.2 million prisoners. In the past 30 years, three fourths of released prisoners were rearrested within 5 years of their initial release. The Vera Institute reported “if just [the] ten states studied cut their recidivism rates by ten percent, it would save taxpayers $470 million a year". Booker said in a statement, the REDEEM Act "will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders re-offend." So, the reentering of these citizens to society should serve to benefit all Americans.

In regards to the racial disparities of our criminal justice system, Paul vocalized, “I mean, three out of four people in prison for drugs are black or brown. Nobody sort of wrote that policy down, but it’s related either to poverty or ease of conviction. But for one reason or another, when you look at polls, white kids use drugs just as much as black and brown kids, but white kids aren't going to jail at nearly the rate”. Through this act, Paul hopes to counter some the biases found in our judicial system; this is yet another hot-button issue addressed in the proposed legislation. Whether or not the REDEEM Act has all the answers, it certainly sheds light on a number of pressing topics. It is nice to see politicians work across the aisle in pursuit of a common goal, particularly at this time when we are in such desperate need of reform.

As an attorney, I have seen many young people who have had their career options limited because of a foolish decision they made one night in college to use drugs. I am not an advocate for legalization of drugs as I have seen the harm done by drug users both to themselves and others. However, I think our laws should give people second chances, especially when it’s a first offense for a non-violent marijuana user. Most of my clients who have been arrested for these crimes have learned from their mistakes and now lead productive and fulfilling lives and I think sending someone to jail for first time marijuana use is too harsh a penalty. However, I want to clear that I think drug use is always a bad decision.

The Reid Law Firm regularly engages in non-violent criminal defense, meaning we are extremely familiar with these types of crimes. We want the best for our clients, which is why this matter is important to us. If you or a loved one has been arrested, please contact us today. We will do whatever is in our power to assist our clients during what is generally an extremely difficult time. Our firm doesn’t just provide legal services we also help our clients get counseling and many of the people we work with do it at no cost (We have some excellent secular and faith based counselors who often provide services at no cost)

If you'd like to schedule a time to talk, please contact the Reid Law Firm today at 205-913-7406! You can also text us at (205) 913-7406 for a quick answer to any legal question. Chris Reid can be reached by email at All communication to the Reid Law Firm is protected by attorney client privilege, so any information submitted will be held in confidence. Initial consultations are always free. For a complete list of our practice areas please visit 

Our firm practices the following areas of law: wills, trust, and estates, divorce and family, DUI and drug offenses (only first and second time offenses), and car accident cases. We also handle business law, including formation of business entities and drafting contracts. Additionally, I co-host Yellowhammer News every Monday during lunch from 11-12 on 101.1 fm Birmingham (but our show is broadcast throughout most of the state).