Rand Paul: Repeal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Defend Black Voting Rights

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(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“If I told you that one out of three African-American males is prohibited by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago.

“One out of three African-American males are forbidden from voting because of the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males. The ACLU reports that blacks are four to five times more likely to be convicted for drug possession, although surveys indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates.

“The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, yet three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses have been African American or Latino.

“Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas. Because we literally subsidize the arrest and incarceration of people. Federal grant money is based on convictions.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s easier to round up, arrest and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids. If law enforcement is expected, or pressured, to meet some quota due to the federal dollars their department might receive, they are more likely to go looking in urban areas than the suburbs. …

“Since mandatory sentencing began, America’s prison population has exploded, quadrupled. America now jails a higher percentage of citizens than any other country in the world, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year. …

“Conclusion: Mandatory minimum sentencing has done little to address the very real problem of drug abuse while also doing great damage by destroying so many lives. I’m here today to ask you to let judges start doing their jobs. I’m here to ask that we repeal mandatory minimum sentencing.”

– Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee September 18, 2013 on “Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences.”

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About the author: James W. Harris

James W. Harris is the editor of the Liberator Online. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."