New York Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio is joining the chorus of voices calling out and criticizing the primary’s current front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, over his continued defense of the 1994 crime bill.
“We need a nominee in the Democratic Party that understands the crime bill was a mistake — and is ready to get away from the era of mass incarceration and go in an entirely different direction,” de Blasio told ABC News in an interview at Gracie Mansion.
ABC News reports,
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, often dubbed “the 1994 crime bill,” was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and aimed to curb spiking crime rates around the country. Biden voted for it, and, as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman at the time, played a significant role in passing it.
Now, many Democratic 2020 candidates and even President Donald Trump are taking aim at the former vice president, pointing to the bill as a cause for the mass incarceration of young black men.
“It clearly ultimately led to disparate treatment between white people and people of color right there. That’s not American. That’s not fair,” said de Blasio. “Anyone who voted for that bill has to own up to it and has to acknowledge that we need to go an entirely different direction.”
Across the country, the incarceration rates in the years leading up to the passage of the 1994 crime bill had already begun to see a steep rise, beginning in the early 1980s, according to the Sentencing Project and data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
When asked about that data, the mayor said, “The crime bill kept it going and made it worse.”
De Blasio attributed a drop in crime rates since the 1990s to smarter policing that involved communities, not methods instituted by the crime bill.
De Blasio’s criticism comes after a New York Times column claimed Biden should be proud of his support for the 1994 bill. The column called “disproportionate consequences for racial minorities” a side effect of the bill but said it made cities, like New York safer — an idea de Blasio rails against.
Biden has defended his support of the bill on the 2020 campaign trail.
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