In an effort to gain an edge with voters of color over leading Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, one of her Republican opponents plans to use her husband’s record of putting “a generation of Black men in prison,” reports The Hill.
Rand Paul, a freshman Republican senator from Kentucky, tells the online news site that he plans to compete with Clinton in Philadelphia, where Democrats have a 7-to-1 registration advantage, and other impoverished cities with his support for criminal justice reform as leverage.
Indeed, former President Bill Clinton apologized earlier this month for signing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which created the “three strikes” provision that mandated life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes, according to CNN.
“The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison,” Clinton said. “And we wound up…putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives.”
Clinton’s concession came after Republicans lined up to attack his wife, who stated during one of her first policy addresses that the nation’s criminal justice system focuses too much on incarceration. Per CNN:
“Keeping them behind bars does little to reduce crime, but it does a lot to tear apart families,” Hillary Clinton said. “Our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions.”
Paul has expressed progressive views about reforming the nation’s flawed criminal justice system, including overhauling mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
From The Hill:
Paul noted that in some predominantly African-American communities such as Ferguson, Mo., there are substantially fewer black men than women because so many black men are incarcerated.
He touted bills he has introduced with Democratic support that would give judges more discretion in handing out sentencing and would reduce penalties for non-violent drug offenses.
Paul said he would also challenge Clinton about her vision for reinvigorating blighted urban centers.
Reforming the nation’s criminal system is refreshing discourse, especially since we are tired of the blame game for conditions among Black families in cities like Baltimore, Maryland, Ferguson, Missouri, and Chicago. What we really need is less chatter and more effective change.