Friday, June 14, 2013

Rand Paul on Racial Bias in the Judicial Process

Rand Paul continues his minority outreach efforts and does so in a very sincere way.  From his latest op-ed in the Courier Journal:

In the case of arrests, federal agencies have hamstrung local law enforcement agencies by requiring them to meet numerical arrest goals in order to secure funding. Morally, this is troubling. In practical terms, instead of local enforcement agencies spending their time investigating serious felony crimes, they concentrate on minority and depressed neighborhoods to increase their drug arrest statistics.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which reported on the arrest statistics, highlighted the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. This federal program distributes millions of dollars a year to local law enforcement agencies. Arrest numbers are a performance measure used in doling out the money.


Federal sentencing laws have a disproportionate effect on the African-American community, too. Black men are more than twice as likely as whites to face mandatory minimum sentences. One in three black men may spend time incarcerated. It's not just crime patterns that are to blame. There are significant disparities in sentencing outcomes for blacks and whites arrested for the same type of crimes.


Recently, I joined my colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, in introducing a bill that would authorize judges to disregard federal mandatory-minimum sentencing on a case-by-case basis. Some might think it is unusual for a conservative Republican to join a liberal Democrat on such a bill, but contrary to popular belief, the protection of civil liberties and adherence to the Constitution should be a bipartisan effort.

Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, has introduced companion legislation in the House. I have met with Reps. Scott and John Conyers, D-Mich., both members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to discuss this issue.

I join the African-American community in its outrage at Washington's discriminatory policies and practices and I am eager to work with its representatives in Congress to bring about meaningful reform. Let's have a real dialogue about these issues and make the changes necessary to ensure that the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are secure for all Americans.

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