Rand Paul on Crime
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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