Speaking at the nation’s oldest historically black university, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul renewed his commitment to sentencing and criminal justice reform.
Paul spoke on Friday to students, local leaders and activists at Bowie State University in Maryland. He stressed the need for rolling back civil asset forfeiture and mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
“If we’re for families with a mother and father around, we need to be for fixing the criminal justice system,” he explained. “Criminal justice, or the lack of criminal justice, it’s not a black or white problem. It’s a poverty problem.”
Paul spoke about African Americans who received harsher penalties:
“There’s a racial outcome to this. I don’t think there’s a racial intention,” he said. “But I tell people that I think they’re not looking if they don’t think that the incarceration problem in our country is not skewed towards one race. I don’t think it’s purposeful but I do think it is actual and it is real and we should do something about it.” (The entire speech is available on C-SPAN.)
BenSwann.com’s Annabelle Bamforth reported that Paul worked with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to introduce the REDEEM Act last year, which would have automatically expunged or sealed records for juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes.
Last year at a South Carolina fundraiser, Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook asked Paul about his views on police demilitarization, reforming drug sentencing, and restoring voting rights to non-violent felons. Cook asked Paul, “Is your brand of republicanism the new civil rights movement?” See video below:
Sen. Paul is being praised for reaching out to the black community, which is rare for most Republicans. But some black activists, including Kevin Jackson, are concerned with Paul’s approach.
Jackson told Cook in an exclusive interview that he has concerns with Paul’s approach.
“I was with Senator Paul in Missouri when the Ferguson stuff was breaking. He had gone over to meet with the NAACP at that time, and he was talking in the meeting that I had with him, he was talking about sentencing guidelines. And my warning to him was that it’s like trying to talk to serial killers. You’re not going to talk Ted Bundy out of killing young college coeds,” he explained.
“The problem with reaching across the aisle to [New Jersey Senator Cory] Booker and those guys is they have an ideology that is set, and if you’re going to come over and bend to our will then we’ll listen to you. If Rand Paul believes that he is going to make those guys bend to his will and have some sort of common sense, he doesn’t understand the fight,” he added.
“Yes, it’s good that Rand Paul goes over and throw out of the olive branch, but the olive branch should be ‘I’m here to listen,’ but if you think I’m just here to capitulate and go ‘hey what do you guys want and how much more can I give you?’ that’s not the case.”
Jackson explained that blacks talk about this lack of civil rights and lack of opportunities, but there are enough successful blacks, including doctors, lawyers and accountants, to prove that narrative wrong.
“If you can score a 1010 and get into college and some white kid has to score a 1230, and you take advantage of the system overwhelmingly. In many ways blacks are committing crimes at levels that would be scandalous in most societies. So you’re getting a pass over all of this stuff,” he explained.
Regardless if one agrees with Sen. Paul’s approach or not, he is receiving positive feedback from black leaders. But the question still remains: will blacks vote for Paul’s brand of Republicanism in 2016?