Presidential candidate Joe Biden says his history of tough-on-crime legislation that led to mass incarcerations needs changes, The Intercept reports.
With upward of one in every two? families suffering the harms of mass incarceration, “Too many people are incarcerated,” Biden is quoted as saying in the Sept. 17 article.
During his time as leading Democrat in the U.S. Senate, he led a number of legislative actions to increase anti-crime laws.
He supported increased funding to states to build prisons and criticized then-President Jimmy Carter, a fellow Democrat, for not being tough enough on the war on drugs, the story says.
Under Carter the federal prison population actually fell by a quarter, though rising at the state level. A federal program Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) provided resources to states for policing and prisons was being dismantled in the last days of the Carter administration, the article states.
“The American people believe we have waged war on crime and failed. Therefore, they concluded that nothing can be done about it,” Biden said at the time.
Biden worked to shed his party’s image of being soft on crime, reported The Intercept.
“As most old-line Democrats view it, the only ways we can deal with violence will have a negative impact on civil rights and liberties… I think that’s malarkey,” Biden told the New York Times.
A Biden-Thurmond bill would have increased penalties for drugs, expanded civil asset forfeiture, eliminated parole at the federal level, and would have created a drug czar position. Reagan vetoed the bill.
Biden supported the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that lengthened sentences for many offenses such as 100:1 crack cocaine sentencing disparities.
These new laws led to an explosion of federal prisoners from 24,000 in 1980 to 216,000 in 2013, the article said.
In 1994, Biden pushed through a massive crime bill that authorized more than $30 billion in funding to expand state prisons and local police forces, the story noted.