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Paul: Would have been a tragedy had Obama gone to prison

In arguing against mandatory prison sentences, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday that it's a good thing that President Barack Obama wasn't caught with drugs when he was younger or America could have missed an opportunity to see him in public office.

Obama has "admitted, like a lot of other individuals who are now elected to office, that at one time he made mistakes as a youth," Paul testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "And I think what a tragedy it would it would have been if he had gone to prison. What a tragedy it would have been that America wouldn't have gotten to see Barack Obama as a leader."

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Paul, who faced accusations during his Senate race that he used marijuana while in college, was pushing legislation to toss out federal laws that force judges to sentence felons to mandatory lengths in prison for certain crimes. Such sentences, Paul says, don't deter crime and simply boost prison populations and cost taxpayers.

Paul noted during his testimony that federal Judge Timothy Lewis once sentenced a 19-year-old to prison for a decade for conspiracy.

"What was the conspiracy?" Paul said. "This young man had been in a car where drugs were found. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure one of us might have been in a car in our youth where someone might've had drugs."

- Thomas Burr and Jordan Bailey

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