Biden claims 1994 crime bill ‘did not put more people in jail’

Former Vice President Joe Biden was just caught making a “series of false and misleading statements on guns and crime” at a recent campaign event, according to FactCheck.org.

In particular, Biden claimed that the 1994 crime bill, which included the “three strikes” felony provision, didn’t result in more people going to jail.

Biden defends crime bill

Biden was asked by a young black college student at a CNN town hall event on Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina if he was “aware of the impact it had on the black community” and if he would support the passage of similar legislation today.

“Let me say, I’ve commented on it a hundred times,” Biden replied. “I’ve been thoroughly — and it was endorsed by — let’s get the context here. The crime rate was incredibly high. It did not put more people in jail like it’s argued.”

“It was supported by the black caucus and the black mayors across the country,” he continued. “There was no stop-and-frisk. It set up everything from drug courts to ban assault weapons and the Violence Against Women Act.”

“It had things in it I didn’t like. It had money for state prisons which I opposed,” Biden added. “But on balance, everything that was in that, I supported it, and it provided for community policing,” where officers spent more time interacting and building relationships with members of the community.

Liberal fact-checkers call out Biden

Proper context or not, Biden’s claim that the 1994 crime bill didn’t put more people in jail or prison is dubious, at best.

With regard to Biden’s claim that the crime bill didn’t result in more people going to prison — given that it included mandatory minimum sentencing and the “three strikes” provision that could result in a life sentence upon a third felony conviction — FactCheck noted that while the “mass incarceration” trend was already in motion prior to the 1994 crime bill, experts say that “some of the provisions in the bill exacerbated the trend.”

Biden claimed to have opposed the “three strikes” provision but nevertheless voted for it anyway. As for his claim that he opposed providing funds for state prisons, that’s also questionable, given that he initially supported granting $6 billion to state prisons but had later balked when those funds were increased via an amendment to $10 billion — though he still voted for the bill’s passage.

Similarly, FactCheck pointed out several other questionable claims from Biden about the crime bill. Ultimately, it must be kept in mind that Biden did vote for the final package that cracked down on crime and, yes, resulted in more people going to prison, particularly from minority communities.

Dodging accountability

Biden can attempt to wriggle his way out of his connection to the 1994 crime bill by trying to distance himself from certain provisions that are now viewed as especially onerous by the modern progressive left. But he can never change the fact that he supported the bill in its day and for quite some time thereafter — until the political winds began to shift.

While Biden’s attempt to dodge accountability for his ties to the controversial bill may play well with some Democrats and a largely friendly media, facts are stubborn things. He can’t just rewrite history or make baseless and easily disproven claims about things that have been on the record for decades.

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