CRIME
08/29/2013 10:47 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2013

Cory Booker: Marijuana Is Overcriminalized, And My Sexuality Is Not Important

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (D), campaigning for U.S. Senate, defended his plans for criminal justice reform and the rehashed talks of his sexuality in an MSNBC interview with Chris Hayes on Thursday.

Booker reiterated his view that the criminal justice system is a significant waste of taxpayer dollars and keeps far too many Americans in prison.

"It suppresses the truth of who we are," Booker said. "We say we're the country of freedom and justice, but yet we incarcerate more people in America than any other country on the globe."

Booker said a major problem is the "overcriminalization of pot," which puts far more African Americans in prison than it does whites.

"Here we are 50 years from the March on Washington," Booker said. "Here we are a century, more frankly, from battling the worst kind of white supremacy. But yet we're creating these pipelines from failed schools to our prisons that is disproportionately affecting African Americans and poor. But we're all, we're all tied to the same destiny when it comes to solving these problems and we have to solve them, there has to be an urgency."

When asked about recent comments challenging his sexuality by Steve Lonegan, his Republican opponent in the October U.S. Senate special election, Booker said he has affirmed his sexuality in the past and doesn't think it should make a "whit of difference" to voters.

"We need to stop in America talking about anybody in a public realm, besides what is important -- the content of their character, the quality of their ideas, the courage within their hearts to serve others," Booker said. "That's what's important."

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