Are Republicans Taking Over For Democrats On Criminal Justice Reform?

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Republicans, who control Congress and most of the states, are taking a larger role in the criminal-justice reform push, says Bloomberg Politics. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has co-sponsored a series of reform bills, is giving talks to black audiences that draw scores of reporters. Some Democrats worry that their thunder is being stolen. “One of the great ironies for me, having spent all this time on criminal justice reform, is how the Democrats have basically ceded this incredibly important issue to the Republicans,” former Virginia Senator Jim Webb told Vox.

“I disagree with him about 90 percent of the time,” said Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican. “I went over to him the other day to thank him for his leadership on this (criminal-justice) issue. You can tell it's meaningful to him.” How meaningful was it to Democrats? Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, who is considering a Senate bid in Maryland, said moderate Democrats remained too scared of their shadows to become reform leaders. “Go back and look at Hillary Clinton in 2008,” said Jealous. “Every other Democrat running for president was saying, look, not only do we need to cut the disparity for crack/cocaine sentencing, we need to have retroactivity. It's not fair for someone who sold two rocks to do more time than someone who sold half a kilo of powder. She was the only one who said no to retroactivity.”

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