Posted: Sep 18, 2013 4:18 PM
Updated: Sep 18, 2013 4:19 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is imploring Senate colleagues to support a sweeping overhaul of federal sentencing guidelines.
The libertarian and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately affect minorities and are reminiscent of Jim Crow-era laws.
Paul has drafted legislation with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to give judges wider latitude to craft their own sentences as one way to relieve prison overcrowding. The committee is looking at that bill and another that focuses on waiving mandatory minimum prison terms in some drug cases.
There are more than 218,000 federal prisoners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a number that grown from about 25,000 federal prisoners in the 1980s, when many mandatory penalties were put in place.