Presidential races

Rand Paul on Ferguson: ‘Blame politicians’

Sen. Rand Paul is renewing his calls for criminal justice reform in light of the decision by a Missouri grand jury not to file charges in the death of Michael Brown.

The Kentucky senator and possible White House contender said that the events in Ferguson, Mo., have brought into focus the toll that the War on Drugs has taken on communities. Still, he said the policies have put police in a “nearly impossible situation.”

“In the search for culpability for the tragedy in Ferguson, I mostly blame politicians,” he wrote in an op-ed for TIME magazine.

{mosads}“Michael Brown’s death and the suffocation of Eric Garner in New York for selling untaxed cigarettes indicate something is wrong with criminal justice in America. The War on Drugs has created a culture of violence and put police in a nearly impossible situation.”

Paul did not address whether he agreed with the decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Brown, who was unarmed at the time he was killed. Wilson testified to a grand jury that Brown attempted to charge him after an altercation, with witnesses providing conflicting accounts.

Earlier on Tuesday, Paul told Politico that he did not have any thoughts to share about the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson.

In the op-ed, he wrote that poverty helps drive young people to commit crimes, but said the solution to that problem won’t be found in government.

“Escaping the poverty trap will require all of us to relearn that not only are we our brother’s keeper, we are our own keeper,” he wrote.

Paul visited Ferguson in October and met with local leaders.

He has also been conducting outreach to minorities in an effort to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party. The efforts are raising his political profile ahead of a possible 2016 presidential run.

Paul is one of a few Republicans pushing for criminal justice reform. He has criticized mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, which have resulted in disproportionate incarceration of black people. He has also been an advocate for returning voting rights to nonviolent felons.  

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