Jan 21, 2019

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.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 618,043 — Total deaths: 28,823 — Total recoveries: 135,736.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 104,865 — Total deaths: 1,709 — Total recoveries: 894.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: World case count tops 600,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the novel coronavirus pandemic could worsen if people fail to take the appropriate containment measures, at a news conference in Tokyo.

The big picture: The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 615,519. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

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The one-minute coronavirus story

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News about the coronavirus is so big and coming so fast that it's hard to remember what happened just last week, let alone last month.

Here's the quickest possible review of the story so far — how it happened and how the U.S. lost control.

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