Biden says crime bill was a ‘mistake’ during ABC town hall

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Former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged on Thursday that his support for a crime bill that is widely blamed for increasing mass incarceration of people of color was a mistake, but defended some aspects of the measure. 

Asked during a televised town hall in Philadelphia whether supporting the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was a mistake, Biden said that “yes, it was.”

But Biden also said that the worst effects of the crime bill came as a result of decisions made on the part of individual states after its passage. 

“The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally. What we did federally — you remember George, it was all about the same time for the same crime,” Biden told ABC anchor and town hall host George Stephanopoulos. 

Biden also noted that the bill had broad support among prominent Black leaders at the time and that things have “changed drastically” since then. Nevertheless, he repeated, “it was a mistake.”

A member of Biden’s campaign later took to Twitter to clarify that Biden was speaking of a 1986 crime bill that included mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

Biden’s support for the 1994 crime bill during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has drawn criticism over the course of his presidential campaign.

He has previously expressed regret for backing the measure, calling it “a big mistake” last year.

Tags 1994 crime bill 2020 election ABC town hall George Stephanopoulos Joe Biden

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