(American Spectator) -- A couple of months back in our nation’s capital Senator Rand Paul spoke at The American Spectator’s annual Robert L. Bartley dinner and wowed the crowd. However, at the end of his rousing speech he assumed a more somber tone as he spoke about the plight of America’s poor, particularly the poor who commit petty crime. He expanded his remarks to include those who commit petty crime in general and find themselves committed to the unwelcoming doors of the American prison system from which they emerge often only infrequently. Our American prison system turns out to be a place with little to offer save for an advanced degree in criminality. If one were intent on entering a life of crime, one might begin in an American prison.
Senator Paul’s point was that something should be done about criminalizing petty crime and handing down onerous sentences when other forms of punishment are available. Stealing a loaf of bread or selling a small quantity of marijuana or some other controlled substance ought not to land a young person in jail and put him on the road to more serious and more violent crimes. It ought not to condemn the young person to a life spent in and out of the criminal justice system when other options are available.