Joe Biden admits past mistakes on criminal justice
Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has given himself a January deadline to decide whether to run for president in 2020, used his address at a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Washington Monday to express regret for supporting tough-on-crime bills during his time in Congress, including a measure that established strict sentencing standards for crack and powder cocaine offenses.
Why it matters: Biden would be an early front-runner if he enters the race.
But his role in helping to pass tough-on-crime legislations in the 1990s — that experts say have led to an era of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black Americans — will certainly face scrutiny.
"I haven't always been right. I know we haven't always gotten things right, but I've always tried. … It was a big mistake when it was made. We thought, we were told by the experts, that crack you never go back, [and that the two were] somehow fundamentally different. It's not different. But it's trapped an entire generation."— Biden said.
In his remarks, Biden highlighted the work he did with President Barack Obama to help curb sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine.