Jul 23, 2019

Joe Biden releases criminal justice plan

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden has released his criminal justice plan, which emphasizes the need to shift from incarceration to prevention.

Why it matters: Biden's record on criminal justice as a senator has faced scrutiny during his 2020 campaign. His backing of a controversial 1994 crime bill put him at odds with Democratic rivals and President Trump. This plan can help him rebrand himself on the issue, although senior Biden officials say he remains "fully prepared to talk about all of his record."

Details: Biden plans to overhaul several areas of the criminal justice system — including abolishing the death penalty, eliminating federal private prisons and ending cash bail. He would also stop mandatory minimums at the federal level and incentivize states to remove them. Other pledges include:

  • Expanding federal funding for mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Setting a goal of ensuring 100% of "formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry."
  • Expanding the Department of Justice's ability to address "systemic misconduct" in law enforcement and prosectors' offices.
  • Boosting investments in public defenders' offices.
  • Decriminalizing the use of marijuana and expunge all previous cannabis convictions.
  • Ending prison sentences for drug use alone and exerting clemency power for "individuals facing unduly long sentences for certain non-violent and drug crimes."

By the numbers: Biden plans to create a $20 billion grant program to help states amp up preventative measures. And he intends to invest $1 billion a year in juvenile justice reform.

What to watch: Per a statement by the Biden campaign, "In the months ahead, Biden will also detail his plan to tackle the public health epidemic of gun violence in America, starting with universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines."

Go deeper

Bernie Sanders unveils sweeping criminal justice reform plan

Bernie Sanders. Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday revealed a 6,000-word proposal for overhauling the criminal justice system, timed to coincide with the Democratic presidential candidate's 2-day trip to South Carolina.

The big picture: Sanders' sweeping plan, titled "Justice and Safety for All," promises to transform the criminal justice system in the U.S. by ending "profiteering" by corporations, reforming police and prison systems, investing in communities, and ending mass incarceration, among many other things.

Go deeperArrowAug 18, 2019

Democrats prepare for debate brawl with Joe Biden

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

They don't want to talk about it, but the struggling Kirsten Gillibrand campaign appears to have spent a lot of time Googling Joe Biden as of late. The New York senator has publicly —and cryptically — alluded to unnamed Democratic candidates who "do not believe necessarily that it's a good idea that women work outside the home." The remark, which she's declined to clarify, has generated fervid speculation. 

The intrigue: Meanwhile, an account on the site newspapers.com that appears to be linked to her campaign has been gathering news articles about the former vice president's stance on the child tax credit in the '80s. (The newspaper.com account and related Twitter account appear to have been taken down after we approached the Gillibrand campaign for comment.)

Go deeperArrowJul 28, 2019

Debate night: Harris and Biden go head-to-head

Biden and Harris meet on-stage on July 31, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden greeted Sen. Kamala Harris on the debate stage Wednesday with a request: "Go easy on me, kid."

For the record: 5 senior campaign officials told Axios' Alexi McCammond that Biden was "ready to throw down" on Wednesday, after Harris' took control at the first Democratic debates in Miami. Harris and Biden went head-to-head tonight on these issues:

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 1, 2019