Rand Paul

NAACP Chief Says Criminal Justice Reform is a GOP Path to African-American Votes

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NAACP president Benjamin Jealous writes for CNN that the Republican Party should take a cue from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and address the inequities of mass incarceration. A recent survey of 1,600 African-American voters indicates an opportunity for the GOP to begin to heal the rift with the African-American community by meaningfully taking on criminal justice reform and demonstrating a sincere commitment to civil liberties. 

Jealous notes that Paul received applause while speaking to a crowd at Howard University, one of the nation's historically black colleges, when Paul contended: "We should not have drug laws or a court system that disproportionally punishes the black community." Jealous suggests taking on the issue of criminal justice reform is "one issue where the GOP can connect with black voters." Data from the NAACP survey provides empirical support.

First, it's important to note the data indicate 55 percent of African-Americans don't think the Republican Party cares at all about civil rights and equality, 32 percent think Republicans just say what minorities want to hear, whereas only 7 percent think Republicans are sincerely working hard to address civil rights and equality. In stark contrast, 71 percent of African-Americans think Democrats are working hard to promote equality and civil rights, only 18 percent think it's just rhetoric, and only 2 percent think the Democrats don't care at all.

Likewise, about three-fourths of African-Americans view Democrats as working hard on issues of poverty, public education, health care, and job opportunities. Democrats score higher than Republicans by margins of about 60 points on these issues. However, only 30 percent of African-Americans think Democrats are "working hard to reduce mass incarceration." Although Republicans don't score much better (only 6 percent) there is only a 24 point differential.

Jealous points out:

As Paul demonstrated, mass incarceration is also a fundamental conservative issue. State spending on prisons has tripled over the last 30 years, reaching $70 billion in 2008. Federal prisons are at 139% capacity, often thanks to harsh mandatory minimum sentences. And who pays for all these guards, beds and three square meals a day? Taxpayers.

In fact, some red states have led the way on criminal justice reform. In Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, Republican legislatures have teamed up with progressives to increase options for parole and reduce mandatory minimums. In Texas, the NAACP and progressive activists worked with leaders of the Tea Party to pass a dozen reform measures. Last year, Texas scheduled the first prison closure in state history.

Rand Paul is not the first national Republican leader to speak up, either. Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush are both members of the conservative think tank Right on Crime. And in 2011, Gingrich joined Grover Norquist and other unlikely allies—including Mike Jiminez, the president of California's prison guard union—to endorse the NAACP's report, Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate. The report revealed how the rise in prison spending has caused states to spend less on education.

These alliances should draw the attention of Republican leaders. Many Democrats shy away from talking about criminal justice reform, for fear of being labeled "soft on crime."

The NAACP report finds that African-Americans are considerably less enthusiastic about the Democrats in 2016 than they were in 2012. The survey also found that about 14 percent of African-Americans would be more likely to vote for a Republican who took a stand for civil rights and equality. Although this share may seem small, the African-American vote for President Obama exceeded his margin of victory in several key battleground states like Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, demonstrating that margins matter.

But most importantly, if one is not just concerned with winning votes but cares about people and cares about the ideas that improve people's lives, then it makes perfect sense to take on these issues with a moral imperative. 

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  1. The NAACP report finds that African-Americans are considerably less enthusiastic about the Democrats in 2016 than they were in 2012.

    …So people are less enthusiastic about an election four years distant than one that just reelected the first black president? Shocking!

    The survey also found that about 14 percent of African-Americans would be more likely to vote for a Republican who took a stand for civil rights and equality.

    Republicans have overwhelmingly stood for civil rights and equality before the law. What the NAACP wants is equality of result. Which is not the same thing as equality before the law, and is certainly not libertarian in any way.

    1. Republicans have overwhelmingly stood for civil rights and equality before the law.

      Maybe if you consider Lindsay “Send Him to Guantanamo” Graham as some sort of new MLK….

      1. I meant in the context of segregation, ect.

        1. OK. But is that really relevant in 2013? You’re not going to convince any black voters by telling them they’re just wrong, and appealing to halfway through last century for evidence. 1950’s southern segregation isn’t an issue anymore.

          1. And the alternative is…ignoring history, lying and saying “we were nasty racists in the past but don’t worry, we’re for affirmative action now”? I really don’t think that’s a winning strategy either. My point really is that I don’t think Republican outreach will get very many black votes, and outreach with a more libertarian flavor even less so.

            1. Yeah, we’re notorious for our support of affirmative action around here.

              1. Yeah, we’re notorious for our support of affirmative action around here.

                We’re all Republicans here?

                1. Affrimative action is itself rascist and tends to harm those it purports to help in addition to the direct harm to those it discriminates against.

                  1. (at RightNut, not UnCivilServant)

            2. And resting on the laurels of something your party did half a century ago, while refusing to deal with everything since then (e.g. The Southern Strategy) isn’t ignoring history?

            3. My point really is that I don’t think Republican outreach will get very many black votes

              So, if Republicans try to stop government from locking up so many blacks, and Democrats fight to continue locking blacks up, you think that at the margin, Republicans still won’t pick up any votes from blacks or from white liberals?

              Seriously?

            4. And the alternative is…ignoring history, lying and saying “we were nasty racists in the past but don’t worry, we’re for affirmative action now”? I really don’t think that’s a winning strategy either.

              False dichotomy. I never suggested any thing.

              You could go with:

              1) School choice, so poor children can get the same education as rich children and every child will have equal opportunity in the modern economy.

              2) End the drug war, which throws countless young black men in jail over victimless crimes and ruins their records, and fuels the gang violence on our streets and in our schools.

              3) Civillian review boards to bring local accountability back to police departments that are supposed to be serving the community, not occupying it.

              4) Welfare reform for people who can’t afford to work. If you got out and get a low paying job, it shouldn’t disqualify you from all your welfare so that by working you can’t afford your bills. Welfare should be phased out for people taking low-income entry level jobs so they don’t see their paycheck plummet because they decided to start working, restoring the incentive structure for finding a job and getting off welfare.

              You think that’s unsalable to urban black communities?

          2. 1950’s southern segregation isn’t an issue anymore.

            Not for people here, and not in a real-world context, but the paranoia within the black community is incredible. There is a significant percentage who believe that white people (or conservatives) want to roll back all civil rights (incl right to vote).

            It’s not a pleasant truth, but one that cannot be ignored.

              1. Many of us here can’t access YouTube. Give us a hint?

                1. “Gonna Put Y’all back in chains!!!”

                  Vice President Joe Biden, with the worst use of “y’all” I’ve ever heard.

              1. I’m not pessimistic about the community as a whole, but very, very saddened by the paranoid, anti-education segment of the community.

        2. Not since the Southern Strategy

    2. Republicans have overwhelmingly stood for civil rights and equality before the law. What the NAACP wants is equality of result.

      Every now and then, they are roughly the same thing. When blacks get incarcerated at about 8 times the rate for pot smoking than whites IIRC, even though both groups smoke weed at comparable rates, wanting equality under the law would also result in more equality of result.

      1. Whatever the reason is for this racial disparity is going to be refractory to politics. I don’t think there’s anybody in any high place ordering the disproportionate incarcer’n of blacks, so there’s no way to counter that phenomenon by ordinary political means. Not only all the politicians, but all the police, lawyers, and judges could be black, and I’m afraid you’d get the same result.

  2. It looks like you put in 44% instead of 24% on the label on your lower pie chart.

  3. Wait… Wait… The guy’s NAME is Jealous? The article makes more sense now, but how did he ever survive childhood? Or did that trauma drive him to an organization like the NAACP?

    1. I don’t know but he is the whitest looking black man I’ve ever seen…

      1. Or perhaps the greenest?

  4. I bet libertarians would do better with black people if they used more alt-text. Along with every other demographic too.

  5. Booyah!

  6. Really? I know a couple black democrats…and they are always railing about “why can’t the cops get these gang bangers and thugs off the streets?” Several support “stop and frisk” and other tough lawnorder stuff but wouldn’t vote for the GOP if Lincoln himself was running.

    1. Derp knows no skin color.

  7. That 71% of respondents think Team Blue is doing anything more than talking out of their asses about criminal law reform demonstrates how delusional people are about politics. The Blues have owned the White house and the Senate for 4+ years now and they’re still packing young black men into prisons at record rates.

    1. It’s a case of intellectual battered wife syndrome. It doesn’t matter how many times Big Daddy Barack hits them, they’ll keep coming back for more once he apologizes and says he doesn’t mean it.

  8. *snort* Define “working hard on” these issues?

  9. Republicans are just such cowards on this. They have no balls. It would be nice if they would consistently ask how it is the Democrats in good conscience can take so much money from the prison guard and police unions who do so much to oppress blacks while at the same time expecting blacks to vote for them in overwhelming numbers. But that would require the courage to take the incredible beating the media would deal out on anyone who dared tell the truth and admitting that maybe not everyone who is in prison right now belongs there.

    Good luck with that.

    1. The soccer moms like the nasty black people being locked up and kept away from their precious snowflakes.

      Much of Democratic policy-making can be explained by their courting of that critical demographic.

      1. and these same people drive around with Coexist bumperstickers

        1. They are convinced that when the right people are in charge that only the right people get locked up. Magical thinking, FTW!

      2. That is totally true. And soccer moms are a swing vote. They voted Republican after 9-11 in the 00s. The views of the typical upper middle class white suburban parent is the root of many of our problems. Think about it.

        Who is objecting to school choice besides the teachers unions? Suburbanites afraid their snowflakes might have to go to school with black kids

        Who is pushing the drug war? Suburban parents worried about their snowflakes having to go to rehab

        Who would go ballistic if you tried to do a flat tax? Suburbanites not wanting to lose their home mortgage deduction.

        The list goes on and on.

        1. I’m reading a book about prohibition. same story — starting in the 1850s. maybe not the suburban aspect, but the mindset.

          1. The prohibition movement was mostly women wasn’t it? I want to say a big driving force behind it was to stop women and children from being left in poverty by drunken husbands. That image of the father off drinking while the wife and kids starved I am sure happened. But if the rest of history is any indication probably happened much less often than prohibitionists pretended it did and when it did there was usually more going on than just drinking.

            1. yep. i’m only a few chapters in, but it was linked in part with the suffrage movement. they switched tactics from “drinking is a sin” to “won’t somebody think of the children”

              Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.

              1. I would be a surprised if it was a coincidence that prohibition came right after suffrage. Back then women were not allowed in bars and no respectable women would ever be caught drinking in public. So given that, I doubt many women had much of a problem with prohibition.

            2. In the USA (and Canada AFAIK) the prohib’n movement was equal-sexed at the founding of the country, and it remained so in most of the rest of the world (except maybe Australia). In the USA it became more of a women’s thing over the course of the 19th C.; Stanton Peele & others wrote that it was because of a social change here in the pattern of drinking, with the rise of the saloon as a place where women were disallowed or at least discouraged–a place where men could get away from their wives. We have an image of the saloon from cowboy movies as if it were a frontier phenomenon, but it’s just the opposite: It was a product of urbaniz’n.

        2. Obligatory mention of Everclear’s Volvo-Driving Soccer Mom. I can’t access YouTube where I’m at.

    2. This. Also, the teachers unions that basically set educational policy in inner cities.

      1. Sadly that wouldn’t work as well as it should. A lot of black people view public education as a jobs program and don’t want reform. Mayer Fenty tried to fix the schools in Washington and got kicked out of office for it. And it wasn’t white people who kicked him out. It was black people pissed off that Fenty was cutting back on public school jobs.

      2. Also, the anti-education bias in some parts of the black community. That is one of the saddest and most frustrating features of the mess we’re in.

        1. Yup. See Mayor Fenty.

    3. Er cowards? I don’t think the majority of Republicans are secret civil libertarians who are just big pussies about the subject.

      Republicans have been hammering the law and order theme since I was in daipers.

      Rand Paul may be trying to change that, but if it changes it will be a matter of changing Republicans minds, not making them come out of the closet.

      1. A majority of Republican Politicians want to win and would love to get the black vote. But don’t make these points because doing so would take courage and also the courage to admit that law and order isn’t always the right answer.

        Also, the only people besides libertarians in this country who are saying shit about prison reform are evangelical Christians. I know it must hurt bad to admit those people are doing something right. But sometimes life is like that.

        1. Also, the only people besides libertarians in this country who are saying shit about prison reform are evangelical Christians.

          Prison bible studies and such. Its hard to have a rosy view of the prison system when you actually volunteer and spend time in prisons with inmates.

          1. Yeah. It is very interesting. Evangelicals used to be real law and order types. And then about twenty or so years ago prison ministries started to get really big in the evangelical community. And their experiences actually changed their views a bit. Most people have no experience with the prison system, have no idea what prisons are actually like and no clue who actually is in prison. If they did, they would think differently than they do. But sadly most people watch MSNBC prison porn and think every prison is like Pelican Bay and every person in prison a deranged sociopath.

            1. Charles Colson started this.

          2. After my dad became a Quaker (!), he started doing the prison ministry thing, and it’s stunned me how he flipped from being a lock-em-up guy to there-ain’t-no-justice-for-the-poor guy.

            His transformation took less than 6 months.

            1. My best friend from high school has always been a real law and order conservative. He got involved in the prison ministry thing. And he is still a conservative and not a libertarian. But he thinks the drug laws are insane and unjust.

              1. My dad has been working in the prison ministry for over 10 years and he’s also not a fan of the drug laws. However, I would say there is still quite a lot of difference between evangelicals and the typical Democrat reform movement. The former is much more religious-based and emphasizes personal accountability and spiritual transformation as the best way of reform, which can’t be brought about through the state. Democrats hate that.

                1. The Dems would like to replace prison with state run and mandated rehab. And that in many ways would be worse than prison. At least prison doesn’t attempt to brain wash you.

        2. ” evangelical Christians”

          picking up on the prohibition book … a lot them wanted to continue to preach. but some of them wanted to use the force of law and there was a split. same thing here.

          1. That is a split that has been with Christianity since the very beginning. Is it a political or a personal religion?

            1. And not just Christianity – Buddhism has a similar split between Mahayana and Theravada schools.

            2. “a political or a personal religion?”

              I would consider this a false choice – the question for many Christians is not political or personal (does personal mean that you can’t complain if a politician violates one or more of the Ten Commandments while in office?), but rather about wise politics versus unwise.

              1. If it is personal, you drop your shit, pick up the cross and live for the next world. You don’t care about politics and government anymore than you care about the rest of the material world. Do hermits care about politics? Do holy men care about politics? Did Christ worry about who the Emperor planned to appoint as the next Imperial Governor?

                1. This may represent the views of some hard-core Mennonites, or of Christian monks who have deliberately separated themselves from the world, but for most average Christian laypeople in representative democracies, their church usually takes a stand on issues.

                  Even clerics, like Pius XII with his rescue of thousands of Jews, sometimes get into politics. He’s not blamed for that – he’s accused (fairly or not) of not doing *more.*

                  And even if religious people take no interest in politics, politics will take an interest in them. The Catholic Church basically has not choice but to protest against being forced to give its employees abortifacients and birth-control.

        3. I know it must hurt bad to admit those people are doing something right.

          Not for me, anyway. And that strawman doesn’t feel pain, so it’s all good, John.

          1. I know Tonio. Libertarians are uniformly perfect. They would never engage in the same petty prejudices and group think every other single human being in history has engaged in at one time or another. They truly are super men, especially you Tonio.

            1. Thank you for recognizing that, John. Now, off to continue the fight for Truth, Justice and the American way.

              1. Just trying to live up to your example Tonio 😉

        4. the only people besides libertarians in this country who are saying shit about prison reform are evangelical Christians

          Actually, I hear a lot of progressives waving signs about the prison-industrial-complex and blaming it on the evil profit motive.

          So you can’t say they’re the ONLY people.

          But I think it’s absurd to say that Republicans are just afraid to champion prison reform, even though they really, really, want to do it and know it would be a winning issue with black voters. There simply IS NO movement for prison reform in the Republican party at present. It’s not cowardice, it’s lack of desire.

          1. I think it would be nice if you would bother reading the posts once in a while Hazel. Which part of

            and admitting that maybe not everyone who is in prison right now belongs there.

            Good luck with that.

            is so difficult for you to understand? And yes, they are cowards about this. They don’t examine their views because law and order is a cheap and easy way to get votes. It takes courage to question that.

            1. Oh oyu mean they are cowards for not challenging THEMSELVES on this issue.

              In that case, I agree with you.

              I thought you meant they were cowards for not publicly advocating their secret pro-prison-reform views.

          2. And progressives are not doing shit about prison reform. Objecting to private prisons is just them bitching about public unions being hurt. It is like saying they care about education because they don’t like vouchers.

  10. So basically the NAACP wants the GOP to take its dick out and literally slap soccer moms across the face with it?

    1. Well they all seem to be reading 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe they would like that.

    2. So basically the NAACP wants the GOP to take its dick out and literally slap soccer moms across the face with it?

      Dude, if you’re going to tease us like that, at least post the Youporn link!

      1. Porn has destroyed people’s imaginations.

        1. You look up Rule 34 and tell me that again with a straight face.

  11. There is something seriously wrong with that second pie chart. The areas don’t match the numerical values, and the numbers add up to more than 100 (percent). Category “working hard” is captioned as 71%, yet the pie slice for that category is clearly more than 3/4 (75%) of the pie. Similarly the “just talk” category is captioned as 44%, yet the pie slice is less than 1/4 (25%) of the pie. The “don’t care” category is listed with two values 2% and 11%; the pie slice for that category appears to be about 2% so at least that’s right (assuming 2% is the correct value). The numerical values in a pie chart should always add up to 100%, yet 71+44+2= 117 and that doesn’t include the mysterious 11% figure.

    1. Try ‘24%’, and assume 3% of the sample didn’t answer.

  12. Our justice system doesn’t discriminate against black people, it discriminates against people too broke to afford high priced counsel for an adequate defense. That distinction needs to be made, because even getting rid of that problem and unjust laws isn’t going to fix the disparity of more blacks going to prison.

    1. Yes and no. The system destroys plenty of lives of people who can afford a good defense. Mostly what it does is completely screw people on the fringes of society. And it doesn’t screw them because they can’t afford a good defense. It screws them because the system has created so many laws that people on the fringes get caught up in the system now when in the past they would have not done well in society, but they wouldn’t have been in jail either.

      Some people are not violent but nonetheless have poor impulse control and seem to have problems understanding cause and effect. In the past these people sort of floated on the outskirts of society since they rarely hurt anyone but themselves. Now those people are screwed. We have so many victimless crime laws that they inevitably get arrested for something and then never get out of the system. You would be surprised what people actually get in trouble for. The most obvious is drugs. But then there are things like public intoxication, driving with an expired license, speeding, what used to be an emotional fight between two stupid people in a bad marriage is now an “incident of domestic violence” and another reason to drag someone into the penal system. The list goes on and on.

    2. Re: GW,

      Our justice system doesn’t discriminate against black people, it discriminates against people too broke to afford high priced counsel for an adequate defense.

      I’m willing to bet that your average judge will be more inclined to give a break to the little dumb white or Asian girl that was caught doing pot and is so sorry about it and crying and pouting, than to the black punk with the pants below the ass, the bad braid job and the attitude.

      Just sayin’.

      1. Depends on the judge. But the little Asian girl is, depending, more likely to have not been in trouble before and to successfully get through probation and get out of the system. Some people can’t for whatever reason do that and end up in the system forever over a series of fuck ups on their part but no real crimes.

      2. “I’m willing to bet that your average judge will be more inclined to give a break to the little dumb white or Asian girl that was caught doing pot and is so sorry about it and crying and pouting, than to the black punk with the pants below the ass, the bad braid job and the attitude.”

        So am I, but not because one is Asian and one is black. But because one is remorseful and the other is defiant, in your example.

        My point is this: blacks are not in jail disproportionally *just* because they’re black….they also disproportionally commit more crimes. That’s the politically incorrect white elephant in the room.

        1. They commit more crimes and that gets them arrested for drug possession more often. Most pure drug possession charges are tack on charges for drugs found when someone is arrested for something else.

          1. There’s no question that drugs are a big part of this. But legalize all drugs tomorrow, and the problem I’m talking about will still exist.

            1. Of course it would. Most people who use drugs don’t get arrested for it. Most people who get arrested for drugs are committing other crimes. So legalizing drugs is not going to empty our prisons as much as people think it would. A lot of those people in prison for drugs right now will just get out and commit other crimes.

              That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t end prohibition. But doing so is not going to be quite what its supporters think it will be.

              1. It would be a huge step. But no, it’s not going to empty prisons.

    3. That definitely accounts for a large portion of the disparity, but it’s naive to think that there is zero racism in the criminal justice system

  13. I have it on the authority of Leonard Pitts that Rand Paul’s speech at Howard University was a total failure.
    Nice to see the NAACP aim at what is truly the civil rights issue of our times, one that is creating monstrous injustice every bit as immoral as Jim Crow, instead of merely advocating for the racial spoils system.

    1. That fact that Pitts and his ilk went so far out of their way to call it a failure is credible evidence it had some effect.

      The truth is the black community is huge and diverse. There is no rational reason why its voting patterns shouldn’t more closely mirror the country at large. Sure it should probably be more liberal and more Democratic than average. But not 95% that way. Leftists like Pitts are desperately trying to prop up a completely unnatural and irrational political situation. The way you do that is lie and admit no possibility of any dissent from the orthodoxy that way everyone who has doubts thinks they are alone in having them.

  14. about three-fourths of African-Americans view Democrats as working hard on issues of poverty, public education, health care, and job opportunities

    Technically they’re right, just not how they think.

    Democraps are working hard on poverty: to ensure that the poor stay poor and more of the middle class join them while making sure their buddies are well taken care of.
    And on public education: to destroy it.
    Ditto for healthcare.
    And on job opportunities: to make sure there aren’t any.

    So yeah, they’re working real hard on all those issues.

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