Rand Paul on Crime


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

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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