Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan distanced himself from national party leaders on Tuesday and said that “crime is an issue” ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
Ryan also attempted to defend prior comments he made regarding the elimination of cash bail and the release of “all the nonviolent criminals” from prison, insisting that his position on the two issues are driven by his support for the legalization of marijuana.
Ryan’s comments came during a Fox News town hall event with Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier in Ohio’s capital city of Columbus.
“Crime is an issue. I don’t care what anybody says about that,” Ryan said. “We need more cops, we need better paid cops, and we need to make sure that we invest into police training.”
TIM RYAN’S PLEDGES TO RELEASE ‘ALL THE NONVIOLENT CRIMINALS,’ SLASH PRISON NUMBERS CONTINUE TO HAUNT HIM
Pressed on the issue of crime by MacCallum, Ryan was asked specifically about prior remarks on crime that he made during his campaign for president in 2019 that favored the elimination of cash bail nationwide and his pledge to release “all the nonviolent criminals” and cut the prison population in half.
“Well, what I’m talking about here is marijuana crimes,” Ryan said. “I think we need to legalize marijuana.”
“You said ‘all nonviolent criminals out,'” MacCallum interjected.
“I think the focus is marijuana crimes, in my mind, right,” Ryan said. “We spend — this may be the stupidest expenditure of federal money in taxpayer money in the history of our country. You get caught with marijuana, then you end up in prison. That’s insane for us. We should tax the marijuana and put it into addiction treatment, we should use it to keep fentanyl and these hardcore drugs out of our country, out of our society. We should invest in the shop class, we should invest into early childhood education.”
“There’s so many better ways to spend this money than locking somebody up for marijuana crimes and especially when White and Black people use marijuana equally, Black people are six times more likely to go to prison. That’s an unfair system,” he added.
During his campaign for president in the 2020 presidential election, Ryan made several comments that have come back to haunt him as he seeks support from Ohio voters in the Senate race.
DEMOCRAT OHIO US SENATE CANDIDATE REP. TIM RYAN ONCE CALLED FOR AN END TO ‘UNFAIR’ CASH BAIL SYSTEM
Ryan once called for an end to cash bail nationwide and called the system “inherently unfair” during a civil liberties forum in September 2019.
“A good portion of people who are in jail right now are there pretrial. Right, people who have not been convicted, they retain their presumption of innocence. And we’re seeing states end cash bail state-by-state. Would you support that nationally?,” asked Jeanne Hruska, former American Civil Liberties Union political director.
“Yeah,” Ryan replied at the time. “The bail system is inherently unfair and what it does is it sets people down a spiral of not being able to go to work, not being able to take care of the kids, then you have adverse childhood experiences, and all the sudden a parent’s not at home. It’s not much different than what we talk about when we see these kids separated from their parents through the immigration situation.”
Ryan also signaled his support for releasing nonviolent criminals from prison in June 2019.
Ryan was approached by an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “rights for all voter” who asked him if he would commit to reducing the U.S. prison population by 50 percent, should he take the White House.
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“I don’t know if it’s by 50 percent or not, but we want to get all the nonviolent criminals out, for sure,” Ryan responded.
Ryan will face off against his Republican challenger, JD Vance, in the Ohio Senate election on November 8.