LOUISVILLE, Ky- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, made a stop in Louisville Monday to discuss criminal justice reform.
Paul spoke at New Legacy, a non-profit based in lousville that provides housing and vocational education among other things to former felons.
While visiting the non-profit, Paul held a forum to answer several questions surrounding criminal justice reform.
Sen. Paul spoke about making changes to the three strikes rules and changing the way drug charges are handled.
“You can get three strikes and you are getting life in prison, but three strikes can be three felony sales of marijuana, which is now legal in 14 states, but you can still sell marijuana in Kentucky three times, and if it’s a felony amount you can go to jail for life. We’ve reduced that to 25 years and I think that’s a good first step but really I think it should be less than that,” he said. “It’s too much for something that is legal in so many states.”
Another topic that came up was restoration of felon voting rights. Sen. Paul says he supports restoration but says it has to begin at the state level.
“This is one of those things where it has to go through the state legislature probably is the primary way it’s going to happen, but I have testified for it,” Paul said. “The answer to how it gets done is both sides compromising a little bit. Republicans may say you can’t get it back immediately, Democrats may say you get it back immediately, and some where there is the splitting of the difference on how long you have to wait to get your voting rights back.”
Paul says he is passionate about criminal justice reform due to his Libertarian viewpoint.
“Libertarians don’t think you should be punished unless you hurt somebody else, for non-violent crimes we aren’t big on putting people in jail,” he explained. “I would rather put murders, and rapists, and sex offenders in jail and keep them locked up as long as we can keep them there. But for somebody who used drugs, or even sold small amounts of drugs to not have these harsh penalties. And I guess the more I looked at the problem I became aware there was a big racial disparity in our community.”
Paul also took time to comment on the work the state legislature has done to help ex-felons expunge their records.
Sen. Paul was instrumental in the First Step Act, the federal criminal justice reform bill.