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Rand Paul on Crime

 


Stop transferring military equipment to local police forces

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act of 2015. The bill will prohibit the federal transfer of militarized equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies including, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, drones and armored vehicles transferred from the U.S. Department of Defense. This prohibition only applies to offensive equipment and does not prohibit the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.

Unlike President Obama's recent action, this bill will require the return of all equipment currently being used by law enforcement agencies that becomes prohibited under this legislation.

"Big government has created an incentivized system in which local law enforcement is provided mass amounts of equipment to build up forces that resemble small armies. We can eliminate the wasteful spending these programs have created and stop the militarization of our police forces," Senator Paul said.

Source: PoliticalNews.me coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 26, 2015

Stop transferring military equipment to local police

The escalation of the militarization of America's police force has become increasingly alarming over recent years. Police departments are being equipped with military grade gear and equipment, usually with little to no oversight or documented training. Evidence has shown that the use of SWAT teams to execute search warrants disproportionality affects minorities in comparison to white suspects.

The Department of Defense's 1033 program, which transfers militarized equipment to law enforcement, has transferred $5.1 billion worth of new equipment from the Department to federal and local law enforcement agencies since its creation in 1997.

The Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act will substantially curb this practice. The bill will prohibit the transfer of militarized weaponry that was never designed to be in the hands of law enforcement--including mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles and weaponized drones.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 87 , Apr 28, 2015

Focus on violent criminals, not nonviolent African-Americans

Our nation's laws should focus on imprisoning the most dangerous and violent members of our society. Instead, our criminal justice system traps nonviolent offenders--disproportionately African-American men--in a cycle of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration.

The lack of trust toward police in minority communities and the protests on our nation's streets are rooted in growing discontent: 57% of Americans express confidence in the police, but only 34% of African Americans feel the same way.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 83 , Apr 28, 2015

REDEEM Act: seal non-violent criminal records to allow jobs

Since taking office, I have found that one of the biggest impediments to finding a job is a criminal record. Upon examining our nation's criminal justice system, I found that the system is in desperate need of reform.

I have worked across the aisle to reform the system with the REDEEM Act, which creates a judicial process for adults to seal non-violent criminal records on the federal level. It also creates an automatic expungement of records for non-violent juveniles under the age of 15. It mandates the FBI to update their criminal background check system to ensure that employers receive accurate information. States are incentivized to have substantially similar legislation on the state level or risk losing appropriations for law enforce

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, RandPaul.com, "Issues" , Apr 7, 2015

Restore federal right to vote to non-violent felons

I have worked across the aisle to reform the system with various pieces of legislation including:
Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, RandPaul.com, "Issues" , Apr 7, 2015

Defend the whole Bill of Rights, including speedy trials

Rand Paul said at CPAC that "we have to defend the whole Bill of Rights. To defend the Second amendment, you have to defend the Fourth Amendment," he continued. "You need the First Amendment to protect the Second Amendment. The Fifth, the Sixth--we should have speedy trials in our country." Paul cited the case of Kalief Browder, an African-American teenager accused of a crime who spent three years in jail without even getting a trial. While behind bars, he tried to commit suicide several times. Browder "lives in that 'other America' that Martin Luther King talked about," Paul said.

If the GOP wants to appeal to minorities and other voters beyond its core conservative base, he said, it must defend the entire Bill of Rights. The party should make the case that "big government's not only a problem as far as regulation and taxes, [but also] with sometimes not giving justice to those who deserve it."

Source: CBS News on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Feb 27, 2015

Defend the 4th & 5th Amendments against Big Government

Paul said conservatives need to reach beyond traditional audiences like gun-rights defenders to anyone who has been mistreated by Big Government, including "businesses mistreated by Big Government regulations" and "poor people mistreated by Big Government and over-criminalization."

"No one really has taken the same message of Big Government incompetence to widely disparate groups and said to all of them: 'I will defend the Bill of Rights,'" Paul said. "I think that is a message that is a unifying message, not a dividing message."

Paul said his "new way" means that conservatives "take the defense of the Bill of Rights and instead of only sort of talking about the Second Amendment, we take the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment to all kinds of audiences who are ready and waiting to hear this."

Paul said his mission is to "get these kids excited" and convince them "that you're going to really do something to make their future better."

Source: Poltiico.com on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Feb 26, 2015

Blacks look who's in prison & conclude cops out to get them

Q: What about the death of Michael Brown [in a police shooting] and the unrest that followed [in ongoing riots in Ferguson, Missouri]?

PAUL: If you're African American and you live in Ferguson, the belief is, you see people in prison and they're mostly black and brown, that somehow it is racial, even if the thoughts that were going on at that time had nothing to do with race. So it's a very good chance that had this had nothing to do with race, but because of the way people were arrested, that everybody perceives it as, "My goodness, the police are out to get us," you know? I don't know what happened during the shooting, so I'm not gonna make a judgment on the shooting. But I do know what's happening, as far as that you look at who's in our prisons.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Aug 24, 2014

Death penalty is a state issue

Rand Paul said that the disproportionate number of minorities in the nation's prisons convinced him to push for sentencing reform and restoring voting rights to some convicted felons ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016. However, the fact that there are a disproportionate number of minorities on death row in the US has not led him to scrutinize capital punishment. He said the death penalty is a state issue: "I haven't had a lot of feedback specifically on that," Paul said in a phone interview. "I just haven't taken a position on the death penalty."

White people have accounted for more than half of all executions in the United States since 1976. Kentucky has executed three people since 1976--all white males--but none since 2008. The state's death penalty has been on hold since 2010 pending the outcome of a state lawsuit.

Paul said he did not know if the death penalty is an important issue to minority voters, whom he has been courting in recent months.

Source: Washington Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 24, 2014

Let convicted felons regain the right to vote

Q: You said last year "If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago. Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the war on drugs."

PAUL: It's the biggest voting rights issue of our day. There may be a million people who are being prevented from voting from having a previous felony conviction. I'll give you an example: I have a friend who, 30 years ago, grew marijuana plants in college. He made a mistake. He still can't vote, and every time he goes to get a job he has to tick a box that says convicted felon. It prevents you from employment. We should be for letting people have the right to vote back, and I think the face of the Republican Party needs to be not about suppressing the vote, but about enhancing the vote. My bill would allow somewhere a million people to get the right to vote back.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 22, 2014

Justice cannot occur without a trial, especially minorities

Justice cannot occur without a trial. This fact should be abundantly clear to any group that has ever been persecuted. You can be a minority by the color of your skin or the shade of your ideology. Anyone who has ever paddled up-stream, anyone who has ever been a minority of thought or religion, anyone who has ever taught their children at home or sought to pray to God without permission, should be alarmed that any government might presume to imprison without a trial. Whether you are black or brown or white, man or woman, you should fear a government that maintains the authority to imprison without trial, without a jury.

Madison wrote that we would not need a Constitution to protect us if government were comprised of angels. Guess what? Madison readily admitted we weren't ever likely to be governed by angels.

Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention , Mar 8, 2014

Defend trial by jury & oppose unlawful searches

We are the party that adheres to the Constitution. We will fight to defend the entire Bill of Rights from the right to trial by jury to the right to be free from unlawful searches.

We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it. We cannot and will not allow any President to act as if he were a king. We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.

Source: Tea Party Response to 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

Stop over-criminalization in vague laws like Lacey Act

The over-criminalization of business activity through the Lacey Act [is an example] of "imprecise law"--laws that can mean virtually anything. This year, I introduced the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures Act (FOCUS Act) to address these issues, co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia. When introducing the FOCUS Act, I said:

"Rep. Broun and I are concerned with a dangerous law called the Lacey Act. The FOCUS Act makes significant revisions to the Lacey Act, revisions that we believe are necessary to prevent Americans from having their businesses raided by armed federal agents, their property seized, and even being sent to federal prison."

I refer to the Lacey Act as "dangerous" because of the ways in which it has already wreaked havoc in the lives of many innocent Americans. The FOCUS Act would alter the Lacey Act by removing all references to "foreign law." It would also remove the Lacey Act's criminal penalties and substitute a reasonable civil penalty system.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.145-146&150 , Sep 12, 2012

Lacey Act applies foreign laws to US citizens

The Lacey Act is a frightening example of our government criminalizing activity that really shouldn't be criminal. The original intent in 1990 was conservation--to prohibit trafficking in "illegal" wildlife, fish , and plants.

Legal scholars agree that the end result of this act is an extremely broad law that contains harsh criminal penalties for the vaguest of reasons. The original maximum penalty for violating the Lacey Act was a $200 fine. No imprisonment was envisioned for such violations. But mere $200 fines don't make legislators seem "tough on crime."

The Lacey Act's broad and unspecific delegation of congressional power to foreign governments runs completely afoul of Article I of the Constitution. It also runs afoul of common sense. Try explaining to any American that they could go to jail simply for buying or selling a product that is illegal under foreign law--not US law. Try explaining to them that it wouldn't really matter if they were aware they were breaking these laws or not.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.106-107 , Sep 12, 2012

Many criminal statutes lack requirement of criminal intent

The plain language of our Constitution specifies a very limited number of federal crimes. Originally, there were only 4--including treason and piracy. But we have moved so far away from the original intent of our Constitution that we don't even have a complete list of all the federal criminal laws. There are over 4,450 federal statutory crimes scattered throughout the US Code. But no one actually knows the exact number with certainty.

In addition, the vast majority of criminal statutes that have been passed by Congress in recent years lack adequate "mens rea" requirements--our traditional and basic legal notion of criminal intent. In other words, Congress passes laws that either completely lack or have an extremely weak "guilty mind" requirement, meaning that someone charged under the statute could be convicted of a federal offense when he or she just made an honest mistake, or perhaps did not possess the criminal intent traditionally necessary for a criminal conviction.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.256-257 , Sep 12, 2012

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Page last updated: Aug 16, 2015