In an interview Friday on CBS's "The Late Show," Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker said he is not surprised by Paul Manafort's 47-month sentence, considering our criminal justice system comes down hardest on "poor folks, mentally ill folks, addicted folks and, overwhelmingly, black and brown folks."
"This news came out about Paul Manafort, and I’m really ticked off about this," Booker said. "Well, one of my friends says that we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. There are people from neighborhoods like mine in America who get convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing. We are a nation right now that churns into our criminal justice system the most vulnerable people."
"You can tell a lot about a country by who they incarcerate," Booker continued. "So, in Russia, they incarcerate political opposition. In Turkey, they actually incarcerate the media. Be careful if you travel there. In our country, we prey upon the most vulnerable citizens in our nation. Poor folks, mentally ill folks, addicted folks and, overwhelmingly, black and brown folks."
"Were you shocked that he only got 47 months?" host Stephen Colbert asked.
"No," Booker said. "This criminal justice system can’t surprise me anymore."
"[Manafort] is somebody that did things that undermined this investigation. And so, everybody -- that so delegitimizes our criminal justice system, that there are people in prison right now -- I had a guy that went with me to the State of the Union Address… who was in jail for life for selling -- for being in possession of crack cocaine weighing less than a baseball, less than a baseball, a life sentence. And here is a guy that betrayed our nation, that the prosecutors said -- that the sentencing guidelines said over 19 years, and he’s getting out with a slap on the wrist. What does that say to people in communities like mine that have been disproportionately targeted by a drug war that’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war on people?"
"This is the kind of injustice. We say we're the land of the free, but one out of every three incarcerated women on the planet Earth are here in this country. And which women? The most vulnerable. Survivors of sexual assault, 85% of the women we incarcerate are survivors of sexual assault. Low-income folks. Overwhelmingly the majority of women we incarcerate are low-income. This is a cancer on the soul of our country," Booker said.