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Rand Paul: War on drugs ‘unfairly incarcerates’ black Americans

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

During Thursday’s Republican debate, Rand Paul left a strong impression as a leading conservative voice for criminal justice reform and racial equality.

Paul has engaged in bipartisan initiatives to address the war on drugs and the inner workings of criminal justice, and popular YouTube creator Mark Watson asked about what the United States could do to better protect communities and police officers.

Paul quickly brought up the difficulties faced by someone who lives in poverty but gets putative fines in places like Ferguson, Missouri, where much of the city budget was paid for with excessive fines on residents.

He then transitioned into a common theme of his, the racial divide among victims of the war on drugs.

“The war on drugs has disproportionately affected our African-American community. And what we need to do is make sure the war on drugs is equal protection under the law and that we don’t unfairly incarcerate another young generation of African-American males,” Paul said.

Those effects have long-term consequences and harm economic productivity and community development.

“Drug use is about equal between white and black. But our prisons – 3 out of 4 people in prison are black or brown. I think something has to change,” Paul said.

The crowd applauded Paul’s answer, and later in the debate, Ohio Governor John Kasich sounded sympathetic to Paul’s concerns when he declared that drug addicts should not be treated as criminals, but as people in need of medical care.

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