May 30, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Booker: Biden crime bill was "awful"

Cory Booker speaking

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images.

In an interview with with HuffPost while visiting Iowa, Sen. Cory Booker slammed a decades-old piece of criminal justice legislation that 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden helped to pass, calling it a "shameful ... bad bill."

What's happening: Booker, who's focusing his campaign largely on criminal justice reform, said he disagrees with a 1994 bill that Biden helped author and pass to reduce crime. Opponents of the bill argue that its effects unreasonably increased rates of mass incarceration, particularly among communities of color.

The bill implemented the "three strikes you're out" rule, which expanded circumstances eligible for life sentences. The legislation also lengthened the list of crimes qualifying for the death penalty.

“I use this word sincerely. I love Joe Biden. The incentives they put in that bill for people to raise mandatory minimums, for building prisons and jails... overwhelmingly putting people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses that members of Congress and the Senate admit to breaking now. That bill was awful.”
— Cory Booker in an interview with HuffPost

The other side: Biden has pushed back against claims that the crime bill boosted such numbers, stating at a campaign event earlier this month that the bill "did not generate mass incarceration."

  • Biden further argued that the bill only applied to federal violations of the law, which make up a small portion of total prosecutions.

For the record: President Trump also blasted the bill, writing on Twitter that: “Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you!”

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