Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continues adding to his libertarian credentials as he has verbally expressed his support for restoring the rights of convicted felons who have completed their sentences in his home state of Kentucky.
During a recent stop in Louisville, Paul discussed his belief that felons re-entering society after leaving prison should be have their rights re-established. He said, "I am in favor of letting people get their rights back, the right to vote ... Second Amendment rights, all your rights to come back." The senator also outlined his potential plan to restore federal voting rights after a five years, but was unsure what laws would be included in the plan. He specifically cited non-violent drug crimes and reiterated his stance against mandatory minimums for drug charges. Current Kentucky law prevents felons from voting without the governor's approval of an application for a pardon following the completion of the sentence. Paul's decision is one that should be endorsed by the GOP as a restoration of civil rights for youthful indiscretion.
In his remarks, Paul also cited "One in three young black males has been convicted of a felony and they've lost their voting rights. I think it dwarfs all other (election-related) issues." In the United States, roughly one in 107 adults is behind bars. The U.S. has 25% of the world's prisoners. We are creating an underclass of citizens who have been stripped of their voice in the electoral process. Once released, these citizens must pay taxes and live under the government. They have become section of the American population forced to pay taxes without a voice in government. What is more un-American than that?
Paul's belief that rights should be restored might seem dangerous to some, but after someone has completed his sentence, why must he relinquish voting rights on the outside? If you have done your time and showcased that you can maintain life on the outside, you have to have a voice in society's governance. To deny this is to deny the principles of America's founding.
Paul continues to be one of the most ideologically consistent members in Congress. The mantra of limited government and personal liberty is one that spans ideological boundaries. The ideology of liberty appeals across boundaries. Paul's plan is both good policy and good politics for the GOP. The polling supports his decision in his home state of Kentucky. Now let's see if the state legislators and Congress do.