In a Tuesday interview with HuffPost Live, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) discussed how the high cost of the war on drugs prevents law enforcement agencies from getting the funds they need to fight other crimes.
Booker sat down with HuffPost's Ryan Grim to discuss criminal justice reform and his push for supporters to read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Pointing to politicians like Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), who has worked to reduce his state's prison population by changing the way nonviolent offenders are sentenced, Booker said criminal justice reform "is an issue that we all can agree on."
"You shouldn't be letting this bureaucracy grow so big," Booker said. "It's chewing up taxpayer dollars, squeezing out money. Would you rather have a nonviolent drug offender with a bunch of marijuana cost us a million dollars for a high mandatory minimum ... or would you rather be able to hire two more investigators to investigate insurance fraud? To investigate other white collar crimes that are costing society? Or to protect us against terrorism?"
He continued, "We're spending money in the wrong place as a society if we really want to stop the kind of crime that threatens and undermines our economy and our safety."
Noting that the Drug Enforcement Administration has the resources, Grim said that federal drug enforcement agents may better serve the public by investigating white collar criminals.
"Right now we have a Drug Enforcement Administration which is extraordinarily good at tracking money globally," Grim said. "Have you ever thought about telling the DEA, 'Look, we're not going to put you out of business, we're just going to put you somewhere else?'"
"I love when Second Amendment and pro-gun folks say, 'We have enough gun [laws],' enforce the laws that we have,'" Booker said. "And I actually say, you know what you're right. We don't actually enforce the laws that we have well because we have anemic ATF group because they don't get the funding they need. Why? Because we're spending so much money funding other agencies prosecuting the drug war."
"So this is an area that should, for all of us who want to be diligent with the use of taxpayer funds and the returns we get for our economy, should begin to agree that we've gone way off the right path," Booker said.
Watch the full segment from HuffPost Live here.