Rand Paul on Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing: ‘Barack Obama and George Bush Were Lucky’

April 12, 2013 - 10:40 AM

rand paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday he has introduced a bill to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing for drug use and told the story of two young men – Barack Obama and George W. Bush - who were said to use drugs but did not go to jail.

“In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught using illegal drugs, and they weren’t imprisoned. Instead, they went on to become presidents of the United States. Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky,” Paul said in a speech at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.

“The law could have put both of them away for their entire young adulthood. Neither one of them would have been employable, much less president,” the senator added.

Former President Bush has denied allegations that he ever used drugs, while President Obama has admitted to drug use in his memoir, “Dreams of My Father.”

"Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it," Obama wrote. "Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man."

“Some argue with evidence that our drug laws are biased, that they are the new Jim Crow, but to simply be against them for that reason misses a larger point. They’re unfair to everyone – white, black, brown – largely because of this idea that one size fits all, this idea that federal sentences should have no discretion,” Paul said.

“Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy-handed and arbitrary. They can affect anyone at any time, though they disproportionately affect those without the means to fight them. We should stand and loudly proclaim enough’s enough,” he added.

The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, introduced by Paul and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would increase the “safety valve” to apply to all federal crimes. As it stands now, the “safety valve” allows judges to sentence defendants to below mandatory minimum guidelines only in some drug cases.

Paul said he was working with Democratic senators “to make sure that kids who have made bad decisions, such as non-violent possession of drugs, are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences.”

He told the story of “two young men” – both of whom made “mistakes.”

“Both of them were said to have used illegal drugs,” Paul said. “One of them was white from a privileged background,” had “important friends, an important father, and an important grandfather - you know, the kind of family who universities name dorms after.

“This family had more money than you could count. Drugs or no drugs, his family could buy justice if he needed to,” he added.

“The other man also used illegal drugs, but he was of mixed race and from a single parent household with little money. He didn’t have important friends or a wealthy father,” Paul said.

The story wasn’t “about racism in America where the rich white kid gets off and the black kids goes to jail,” Paul said. “It could be and often is, but that’s not this story.

“In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught using illegal drugs, and they weren’t imprisoned. Instead, they went on to become presidents of the United States. Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky,” he said.

“The law could have put both of them away for their entire young adulthood. Neither one of them would have been employable, much less president,” Paul added.