Over the weekend, Rand Paul spoke at the Iowa Republican convention — and harshly condemned America's war on drugs. "It's a problem to lock people up for 10 and 15 and 20 years for youthful mistakes," Paul said. He went on to point out that racial minorities are particularly unfairly treated by the system:
PAUL: If you look at the war on drugs, 3 out of 4 people in prison are black or brown. White kids are doing it too, in fact, if you look at all the surveys, white kids do it just as much as black and brown kids. But the prisons are full of black and brown kids because they don't get a good attorney, they live in poverty, it's easier to arrest them than to go to the suburbs.
Paul then called for compassion for young drug offenders, and argued that voting rights should be given back to some felons who've served their time:
PAUL: Most of us are Christians or Jews or of the Judeo-Christian faith, and it's like, we believe in redemption. We believe in a second chance. Should a 19-year old kid get a second chance? I think yes. Let's be the party that has compassion, that doesn't say the behavior is right, but says, ‘You know what? When you're done with your time, you get the right to vote back.' Let's be the party that is for extending the right to vote back to people who have paid their time, who have reformed their ways.
These aren't new positions for Paul. But the fact that he made them loud and clear to a convention of Iowa Republicans is significant, because of Iowa's importance to the presidential nomination process. Politico's James Hohmann reported recently that Paul is well-positioned to win the Iowa caucuses, and that even "his main opponents concede privately that the Hawkeye State is Paul's to lose." Now, Paul is signaling that if he runs, he certainly won't be downplaying his libertarian drug policy beliefs — that, rather, he views them as an asset. Head over to C-SPAN to watch his full comments.
(Hat tip: Mediaite)