Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | rand paul | criminal | reform | police | shooting

Rand Paul Promotes Criminal Reform in Ferguson

Rand Paul Promotes Criminal Reform in Ferguson
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 10 October 2014 03:37 PM

Sen. Rand Paul traveled to Ferguson, Mo., Friday to meet with civil rights leaders to "find out what we could do to make the situation better."

The Kentucky Republican, a likely candidate for the presidential nomination in 2016, also voiced his long-stated concerns about the militarization of police departments, long prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, and restoring voting rights for felony offenders, reports Time.

Ferguson was rocked by days of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African-American, was shot by a white police officer in August, and protests are expected again this weekend in the St. Louis area after a white police officer shot another young black man this past week.

People attending Friday's discussion, which was not open to the press, said they are concerned about cuts in job training and education funding. Paul said he will support job training funding increases, which could be paid for with from cutting the costs for jailing nonviolent offenders.

"I think there would be money for job training if you greatly lessened criminal sentencing," he said.

One of those attending the session asked Paul if police department diversity should be a federal mandate, to which he replied that such change should be pushed through elections, according to Politico.

"My opinion is they have a great deal of power and if they wanted an African-American police chief, they’d get it in one election if they just go vote for the mayor and register people," he said after the meeting. "They were not too antagonistic to that. Some of them still want some kind of federal intervention here, but they have a great deal of power and could do anything they want if they register people to vote."

Paul said after the meeting, which was sponsored by the NAACP, that those attending were frustrated that "things aren’t happening fast enough."

The visit brought to the forefront how Paul's positions on criminal reform could attract the African-American vote, and those at the meeting got his message loud and clear, reports Time.

"He is stumping like he should be trying to stump if he wants to run for president,” said John Gaskin II, who was at Friday's meeting.

After the Brown shooting, more than 3,200 residents in Ferguson registered to vote, and liberal groups came under fire by state GOP officials for setting up registration booths on the street where the shooting occurred to sign up voters.

The drive, said Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Matt Wills in August, was "not only disgusting but completely inappropriate."

But Paul said Friday he supports more voters across the board to be enrolled, not just Republicans, and said that could happen through restoring felons' voting rights, Politico reports.

"I want more people to vote, not less," he said. "If we want to win elections, we’ve got to try to compete for African-American votes. Violence gets nowhere and it actually sends us backwards," he added. "If that energy, and some anger, if that were channeled into registering voters and getting people out to vote, then you can have constructive changes."

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Sen. Rand Paul traveled to Ferguson, Mo., Friday to meet with civil rights leaders to "find out what we could do to make the situation better."
rand paul, criminal, reform, police, shooting
Friday, 10 October 2014 03:37 PM
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