Booker criticizes Biden's criminal justice plan, calls him 'an architect of mass incarceration'

Booker criticizes Biden's criminal justice plan, calls him 'an architect of mass incarceration'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Steve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination We need a climate plan for agriculture MORE (D-N.J.) blamed fellow White House hopeful Joe BidenJoe BidenPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat Joe Biden faces an uncertain path The Memo: Trump pushes back amid signs of economic slowdown MORE on Wednesday for contributing to mass incarceration in the United States, criticizing the former vice president’s recently unveiled proposal for reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“For a guy that helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country,” Booker told reporters in Detroit after appearing at an NAACP forum for presidential candidates.

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The comment was Booker’s latest swipe at Biden following the release on Tuesday of his plan to combat mass incarceration and “racial, gender and income-based disparities in the system.”

In a statement that followed Biden’s policy rollout, Booker insisted that the former vice president’s role in passing a 1994 crime bill widely seen as having contributed to mass incarceration in the U.S. undermined his ability to address the issue moving forward.

“Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right,” Booker said. “The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it.”

Biden has defended the 1994 measure as necessary for the time, though he has conceded that it ultimately led to the disproportionate incarceration of people of color. Speaking at the NAACP forum on Wednesday, Biden said the crime bill was a response to a “giant epidemic of violence, particularly in African American communities.”

The proposal released by Biden on Tuesday, however, is focused largely on reversing some of the effects of the 1994 crime bill. For instance, it calls for eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and closing sentencing discrepancies for convictions related to powder and crack cocaine.