Sen. Rand Paul has joined with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy in introducing a bill that would allow judges to skirt mandatory minimum jail sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, according to The Washington Post.
Civil rights groups say the sentences are often too strict and don't fit most drug-related crimes, a view that Paul apparently agrees with.
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“I don’t want to encourage people to do [drugs]. I think even marijuana’s a bad thing to do,” the Kentucky Republican said Sunday on Fox News. “But I also don’t want to put people in jail who make a mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their 20s they grow up and get married; they quit doing things like this.”
Paul noted that both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have admitted to using drugs in their past, and that strict drug laws could have put them behind bars.
“Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use,” he said. “Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things, and I think it’s a big mistake.”
Many fiscal conservatives like Paul are supporting the bipartisan bill pushed by Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, in hopes of cutting some of the costs involved in keeping nonviolent criminals locked up.
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