Joe Biden: Mistake to support crime bill

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Joseph R. Biden said Thursday that it was a mistake to support a crime bill he helped craft that many have blamed for the over-incarceration of people of color in subsequent decades.

His campaign then said Mr. Biden was actually talking about a different bill.Mr. Biden had been asked by a voter about his view on the crime bill “that you wrote in 1994.”

After he answered, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Biden if it was a mistake to support it.

“Yes it was,” Mr. Biden said at an ABC town hall in Philadelphia. “But here’s where the mistake came: the mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.”

He said maximum sentences were eventually reduced.

“Black folks went to jail a lot less than they would have before, but it was a mistake,” he said.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Mr. Biden’s role in writing it were major issues in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest.

It included other items, like an assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act, that Mr. Biden has continued to support.

His campaign later tried to walk his answer back.

“VP Biden was talking about the ‘86 crime bill – that’s the one that included mandatory minimums for drug offenses (in fact, the 1994 crime bill did not), which was what VP and George were discussing,” Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said on Twitter.

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