Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul met with the Rev. Al Sharpton in the Senate Dining Room on Thursday for what Sharpton called a "candid" meeting.
Paul, a Republican, is a likely candidate for president in 2016. He and Sharpton discussed criminal justice system reforms and mandatory sentencing practices during the breakfast chat.
"Sen. Paul and Rev. Sharpton discussed criminal justice reform, demilitarization of police, and the senator's recent trip to Ferguson," Paul's spokesperson, Eleanor May, told Politico.
Paul has been pushing for judges to have more flexibility
when it comes to mandatory sentencing of criminals. And he would like to see the percentage of African-Americans who vote for Republican candidates increase from the 2012 level of 6 percent to 33 percent in 2016.
Sharpton, on the other hand, would like to see a decrease in police violence in American cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, which was the scene of massive — and sometimes violent — protests after a white police officer shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in August.
A grand jury ruling on whether or not the officer will be charged in the death could come Friday.
Sharpton confirmed the meeting took place in a statement from the National Action Network, where he serves as president.
"We talked about his position on dealing with some criminal justice issues that I am concerned about. We also discussed mandatory sentencing that he and Sen. Cory Booker are proposing," Sharpton's statement reads.
"We do not agree on executive action on the president, I agree and he does not. It was a very candid and courteous conversation. We pledged to continue to have such conversations where conservatives and progressives can have dialogue and break the logjam in American discussion."
It was reported earlier this month that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will use a $50 million foundation grant to push for shorter prison sentences
"I think criminal justice reform is one of the few issues where you can break through the partisan gridlock," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director.
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