Biden: Questions about 1994 crime bill ‘legitimate’

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Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said younger voters’ concerns about a 1994 crime bill he spearheaded are “legitimate,” adding, however, that there is no evidence indicating it has hurt him among them. 

Biden made the remark during a virtual NAACP forum in response to a question a moderator said came from young voters, The Associated Press reported. The former vice president said “it’s a legitimate concern, they should be skeptical,” but added that he has repeatedly been told his history on criminal justice would hurt him among young voters, and “there is no polling evidence to sustain that. Nor is there voting evidence thus far to sustain that.”

“Watch what I do. Judge me based on what I do, what I say and to whom I say it,” he said.

The 1994 bill, which included provisions such as a federal “three strikes” law, has frequently been criticized by reform advocates as a major driver of mass incarceration.

President Trump’s campaign has attempted to use the law to drive a wedge between Biden and African Americans, one of his most reliable demographics in the primaries, while at the same time attempting to tie Biden to some leftist activists’ calls to defund police departments, which Biden has come out against.

The Biden campaign’s criminal justice plan, meanwhile, would also roll back some provisions of the 1994 law, including ending the federal death penalty and eliminating a difference in sentencing for offenses relating to crack versus powder cocaine, which is frequently cited by advocates as a primary cause of racial disparities in sentencing.

During the event, Biden also expressed cautious optimism that Democrats are well-positioned down-ballot as well, saying “based on the polling data now — it’s really early — there is a real prospect that we’ll pick up up to six seats in the United States to win back the Senate.”

Tags 1994 crime bill 2020 presidential election Criminal justice reform Donald Trump Joe Biden

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