Former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonWhat to know about Trump's national monuments executive order Larry Summers: Mnuchin squandering his credibility with Trump tax proposal Patagonia threatens to sue Trump over national monuments order MORE on Thursday disavowed a tough crime law that he signed in 1994, saying it made the problem of mass incarceration worse.
"I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it," Clinton said at the NAACP's convention in Philadelphia, a day after President Obama highlighted criminal justice reform there.
Among those was a federal provision mandating life sentences for those convicted of three violent felonies or drug trafficking crimes — the “three strikes rule” — and a provision allowing those as young as 13 to be tried as adults.
Clinton justified his decision to sign the two decades-old law, noting the rising crime that was plaguing the country when he first entered the White House.
"We had gang warfare on the streets. We had little children being shot dead on the streets who were just innocent bystanders standing in the wrong place," he said.
"In that bill, there were longer sentences. And most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend," Clinton said. "And that was overdone. We were wrong about that. That percentage of it, we were wrong about."
"The good news is we had the biggest drop in crime in history. The bad news is we had a lot of people who were locked up, who were minor actors, for way too long.”
It is the latest policy that Clinton has recanted for in recent years, previously regretting his signature on the Defense of Marriage Act and the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned gay and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
His wife, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump on presidency: 'I thought it would be easier' Trump threatens to scrap 'horrible' South Korea trade deal New science-fiction book set in future where Clinton won MORE, has embraced same-sex marriage and has called for criminal justice reform as part of her presidential campaign.