Paul sees opening for criminal justice reform

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he thinks there is a chance his plan with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to reform the criminal justice system could pass the Senate this year.

When asked on PBS's "Newshour" if the duo's bill, introduced earlier this month, had a chance in the gridlocked chamber, Paul said it might get upwards of 70 Senate votes.

The freshmen senators' Redeem Act allows adult records to be sealed for non-violent crimes, erases juvenile non-violent crime records for those under 15 and seals them for those over 15, and encourages 10 states to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, among other mandates.

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Reps. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced companion legislation in the House earlier this month.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Paul introduced a bill last year to reform mandatory minimum prison sentences, and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced another, which Paul and Booker hope to potentially attach their bill to as an amendment.

"We see the Smarter Sentencing Act, which reduces mandatory minimums, gives judges more discretion in these cases, as a base bill that maybe Sen. Booker and I, our bill could be attached to as an amendment," Paul said.

The U.S. accounts for about 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of its prison population. They argue the reform could get more people working and address the 5 million Americans who have lost their right to vote.

"So I want people to work, I want people to get back to work, I want them to get back to voting," Paul said.

When asked as a potential 2016 presidential contender if working with those on the other side of the aisle helped his chances in Iowa and New Hampshire, Paul reiterated his passion to reform the criminal justice system.

"Is it good politically? Yeah, I'm obviously a politician. I like to get more votes. But it's also the right thing to do and that's what motivates me," Paul said.

The interview with Paul and Booker came Tuesday evening after the two poked fun at each other earlier in the day on Twitter over their inclusion in The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful list.

Watch their interview here.