Rand Paul Pushes For Criminal Justice Reform At Louisville Stop

Jun 26, 2016

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul stopped at a Louisville Goodwill on Friday to talk about ways to help people with criminal records return to the workforce.

Paul has made criminal justice reform a key initiative during his time in Washington, though the Senate hasn’t passed any major proposals.

Goodwill operates programs that help people with criminal records enter the workforce. On Friday Goodwill and KentuckianaWorks presented their “Re-Entry By Design” program, which helps people on probation or parole put together resumes, prepare for interviews and ultimately find a job.

At the event, Paul said family values-oriented Republicans should logically support legislation that helps people find work despite their criminal records.

“If I’m a Republican and I say ‘I’m for family values’ and ‘I want families to be together’ and ‘I want dads to be around,’ well, dads can’t be in prison for 20 years for a nonviolent crime they committed when they were 21 or you don’t have family values,” Paul said.

Paul voiced support for the felony expungement bill that Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law in April. The bill makes people with certain Class D felonies eligible to have the offenses cleared if they pay a $500 fee. Applicants only become eligible five years after their sentences are complete.

Paul also called for a compromise on state legislation to restore voting rights to some ex-felons. In 2014, Paul voiced support for a bill that would have automatically restored voting rights to felons once they completed their sentences. The bill failed, with House Democrats opposing a five-year waiting period Senate Republicans tacked onto the measure.

Paul said he disapproved of former Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order that automatically granted voting rights to about 180,000 non-violent ex-felons — a move that Bevin rescinded during his first weeks in office.

“Some of us want to see it done by the legislature,” Paul said. “[Beshear] was sort of doing it transiently by executive order. If we’re going to do it, let’s fix it and change the law.”

Paul has pushed several pieces of federal criminal justice reform, including reduction of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, expungement of felony records and restoration of voting rights, though the proposals haven’t garnered enough support to get a floor vote.

A Republican, Paul is running for reelection to his Senate seat against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat.