Biden Offers Crime Bill Mea Culpa as He Preps 2020 Run. Will It Be Enough? | NTK Network Biden Offers Crime Bill Mea Culpa as He Preps 2020 Run. Will It Be Enough?

Biden Offers Crime Bill Mea Culpa as He Preps 2020 Run. Will It Be Enough?

As head of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1994, Biden ushered in a new era of mass incarceration with the so-called crime bill. Now, he must distance himself from it if he wants to be president.

By NTK Staff | 01.22.2019 @10:15am
Biden Offers Crime Bill Mea Culpa as He Preps 2020 Run. Will It Be Enough?

Former Vice President Joe Biden called his involvement in passing the 1994 crime bill “a big mistake” during a Monday breakfast honoring the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The crime bill, which was passed by a Democrat-controlled House and Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, “imposed stiffer sentences for those convicted of crack cocaine possession — a law that has disproportionately affected the black community,” per the Associated Press. It also resulted in a massive spike in the prison population, which some call “an era of mass incarceration.”

Biden’s involvement in the crime bill’s passage as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is seen as a major hurdle he must clear in order to win the Democrats’ presidential primary next year.

Biden said he hasn’t “always gotten things right,” but has “always tried.” He also spoke about his support for efforts by former President Barack Obama’s administration to reduce crack possession sentences.

“It was a big mistake that was made,” he told the Washington breakfast also attended by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “We were told by the experts that ‘With crack you can never go back.'” He said: “It’s trapped an entire generation.”

Biden says the crack sentencing guidelines are one example of broader racial injustice in America.

“White America has to admit there’s still a systematic racism,” he said. “And it goes almost unnoticed by so many of us.”

But the question for Biden remains: will apologies like this one be enough for Democratic voters in next year’s primaries and caucuses? Hillary Clinton was frequently interrupted by Black Lives Matters protesters at her campaign events in 2016 for her involvement in the bill’s passage. Events attended by her husband were even more contentious.

To be sure, Biden will bring along some Obama Democrats who see the former vice president as the 2020 candidate most closely associated with the first black president in U.S. history. But other voters who take a more skeptical view of history might need more convincing, if Biden decides to run for president.

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