Politics
Politics

Rick Santorum Suddenly Concerned About Drug War & Blacks

| by Reason Foundation

By Jacob Sullum

At last night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Rick Santorum defended his support for a bill requiring states to restore felons' voting rights:

This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community.

The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill. And this was a provision that...particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow...them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.

This concern about the drug war's effect on "the African-American community" is a little hard to believe when it is voiced by a former senator who voted to increase penalties for drug crimes and who a few weeks ago claimed there are no nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. By contrast, Ron Paul, one of Santorum's opponents, has been talking about the racist roots of drug prohibiton for decades, and he frequently highlights the racially disproportionate impact of the war on drugs. Unlike Santorum, whose answer is to re-enfranchise people who never should have been disenfranchised to begin with after they regain the freedom that never should have been taken away, Paul's solution is straightforward: "We need to repeal the whole war on drugs."