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Rand Paul wants the US to stop jailing black and brown kids for drugs

Posted by on Jun. 18, 2014 at 6:29 AM
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Over the weekend, Rand Paul spoke at the Iowa Republican convention — and harshly condemned America's war on drugs. "It's a problem to lock people up for 10 and 15 and 20 years for youthful mistakes," Paul said. He went on to point out that racial minorities are particularly unfairly treated by the system:


PAUL: If you look at the war on drugs, 3 out of 4 people in prison are black or brown. White kids are doing it too, in fact, if you look at all the surveys, white kids do it just as much as black and brown kids. But the prisons are full of black and brown kids because they don't get a good attorney, they live in poverty, it's easier to arrest them than to go to the suburbs.

Paul then called for compassion for young drug offenders, and argued that voting rights should be given back to some felons who've served their time:

PAUL: Most of us are Christians or Jews or of the Judeo-Christian faith, and it's like, we believe in redemption. We believe in a second chance. Should a 19-year old kid get a second chance? I think yes. Let's be the party that has compassion, that doesn't say the behavior is right, but says, ‘You know what? When you're done with your time, you get the right to vote back.' Let's be the party that is for extending the right to vote back to people who have paid their time, who have reformed their ways.

These aren't new positions for Paul. But the fact that he made them loud and clear to a convention of Iowa Republicans is significant, because of Iowa's importance to the presidential nomination process. Politico's James Hohmann reported recently that Paul is well-positioned to win the Iowa caucuses, and that even "his main opponents concede privately that the Hawkeye State is Paul's to lose." Now, Paul is signaling that if he runs, he certainly won't be downplaying his libertarian drug policy beliefs — that, rather, he views them as an asset. Head over to C-SPAN to watch his full comments.

(Hat tip: Mediaite)


How many people get arrested for marijuana-related offenses?

There were about 784,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2010, the latest year of data analyzed by a reportfrom the American Civil Liberties Union. Not all of those arrests led to prison time. Estimates put only 40,000 peoplein state and federal prisons for marijuana.


Chart by the American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU also found the share of marijuana arrests rose compared to all drug arrests between 1995 and 2010. In 2010, about 784,000 out of 1.7 million drug arrests were for marijuana possession.


Chart by the American Civil Liberties Union

Among those arrested, the ACLU found giant racial disparities. Blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana possession, with the black arrest rate at 716 per 100,000 and the white arrest rate at 192 per 100,000 in 2010. That's despite the report's findings that whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates.


Chart by the American Civil Liberties Union

by on Jun. 18, 2014 at 6:29 AM
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