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Rand Paul Takes on Cocaine Sentencing Laws

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:53:34 +0000

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- Sen. Rand Paul wants to level the playing field when it comes to criminal sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine offenses. 

In a speech to the Urban League in Cincinnati Friday, Paul announced new legislation that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack and powder cocaine.

Current law carries much harsher penalties for the possession of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, first time offenders possessing 28 grams of crack cocaine would receive a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.  People with powder cocaine, on the other hand, would have to possess 500 grams to receive that same sentence.

Paul officially introduced the legislation, titled the RESET Act (short for “Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment Act”), on Thursday afternoon.  

In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which narrowed the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine offenses from 100:1 to 18:1. Paul’s bill would go much further, completely eliminating the disparity between the two.

The Kentucky Republican, who is not shy about interest in a 2016 presidential run, has made criminal justice reform a cornerstone of his recent legislative pushes.

Earlier this month, Paul teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to unveil bipartisan legislation to reform the criminal justice system -- from offering adults ways to seal their non-violent criminal records to permitting the sealing and expungement of juvenile records for kids who commit non-violent crimes.

In recent months, Paul has argued for broadening the Republican Party and has made a concerted effort to reach out to urban communities and young people.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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