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Pat Robertson: 'Criminalizing Marijuana' Is 'Ruining Young People'


Opening a segment on faith-based prison rehabilitation on his show The 700 Club this week, Robertson noted that many conservatives look at drug addicts and "think 'lock 'em up, throw away the key,' after which he played a segment highlighting how religious influence could help rehabilitate criminals that regularly end up behind bars. "We're probably spending more on prisons than on education," the segment notes, and argues that, given the "50% failure rate" of the prison system (a statistic based on one claiming that 50% of all prisoners end up committing a second crime), it's time for a change in the way prisoners are handled, this time with less "secular" appeal and with more of a biblical approach.

At the end of the segment, Robertson rails against conservative politicians who he says run on a "tough on crime" philosophy that wins votes but is ultimately "not the answer." Beyond putting criminals behind bars, he argues, "we've got to take a look at what we're considering crimes":

"I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing."

So Pat Robertson is not about to blast some Bob Marley and pass a joint around the 700 Club set anytime soon, but for such a hardened conservative to contemplate the idea that it is the prison system creating criminals over these minor crimes- rather than the criminals, as he argues conservatives sometimes think, being born that way- is perhaps the most shocking (or at least unexpected) comment Pat Robertson could make.

The segment from The 700 Club below:

[h/t Raw Story]

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David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at