Tag Archives: REDEEM Act

Rand Paul Speaks Out on Criminal Justice Reform

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?

Rand Paul On MSNBC: “When Your Network Does 24 Hour News Telling The Truth, Maybe We Can Get Somewhere”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently came together to introduce legislation that would reform the criminal justice system to allow non-violent offenders a chance to resume a normal life after incarceration. The REDEEM Act would reform current laws to seal the records of nonviolent juvenile and low-level offenders to allow for them to transition to gainful employment without carrying the burden of a criminal record.

Paul and Booker went on the MSNBC program “The Cycle” to discuss the problems with the criminal justice system and providing examples of how current laws impede the efforts of a nonviolent convict trying to lead a better life.

Later on in the program, host Ari Melber spoke about Paul “evolving” on his position on the Civil Rights Act, a topic Paul had discussed with Rachel Maddow in 2010. Melber shifted the conversation to that discussion between Paul and Maddow:  “As we’re talking about restoring civil rights here, you stirred up a lot of controversy with the 2010 comments.”

“Me? Controversy?” Paul replied.

“You said at the time that you had concerns about the rules for private business while you support most of the Civil Rights Act. Why did you evolve on rules for private business?” Melber asked Paul.

Paul clarified the discussion with Maddow by saying, “What I would say to be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I’ve always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act. People need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I’ve changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act.”

Paul continued, “Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I’ve learned my lesson: to come onto MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion- the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act and you’re some terrible racist. And I take great objection to that, because in Congress I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fair. So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I’m not,” said Paul.

Melber used the term “evolve” once more to ask Paul, “But when you said well- here’s where the rules for private businesses are concerning- why not explain that you’ve evolved on that?”

“I’m not willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this,” replied Paul, who pointed out that he’s been previously accused by people at MSNBC of being opposed to the Civil rights Act because of his discussion with Maddow.

After Melber said that an honest discussion might include talking about different parts of the Act, Paul interrupted: “The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.”



Rand Paul And Cory Booker Partner Up For Criminal Justice Reform

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have come together to introduce legislation that would reform the current justice system to allow low-level and non-violent offenders a better chance at leading a normal life after incarceration.

The legislation, titled Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, or the REDEEM Act, would allow adults who served sentences for nonviolent crimes to have their records sealed, which would provide an improved likelihood of gaining a good job. Additionally, nonviolent offenders would be eligible to acquire welfare and food stamps after serving their sentences.

The legislation would also “automatically expunge the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes before they turn 15 and automatically seal the records of those who commit them after.”

The Act would encourage states where the criminal responsibility age is under 18 to be raised to 18 by offering preference to those states when they apply for federal community police grants. This would potentially cut down on sending “countless kids into the unforgiving adult criminal system.” The Act also places limits on solitary confinement of youth offenders.

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Many of these young people could escape this trap if criminal justice were reformed, if records were expunged after time served, and if nonviolent crimes did not become a permanent blot preventing employment,” said Paul in a statement.

Said Booker of his alliance with Paul for the REDEEM Act, “I will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey, and this bipartisan legislation does just that.” Booker also said that this legislation “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.”

Despite Paul supporting Booker’s opponent during the 2013 special Senate election, the REDEEM Act is the second partnership from Booker and Paul. In June, the two senators teamed up to sponsor an amendment to a Justice Department spending bill that would stop the DEA from using funds to go after medical marijuana users and their providers in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.