Booker presses Barr on impact of mass incarceration on black Americans

Booker presses Barr on impact of mass incarceration on black Americans
© Getty

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPressure on Pelosi to impeach Trump grows DNC raises qualifying thresholds for fifth presidential debate Biden extends lead over Warren, Sanders MORE (D-N.J.) pushed President TrumpDonald John TrumpNYT publisher: US didn't step in to protect reporter from arrest in Egypt so paper turned to Ireland Trump instructed administration to withhold military aid for Ukraine days before call with president: report More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine MORE's attorney general nominee William Barr on the mass incarceration of black Americans during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

During an exchange before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Booker highlighted statistics that found that mass incarceration disproportionately impacted black communities.

He asked Barr if he would commit to a study on racial disparities and the factors that lead to mass incarceration, noting that "numerous researchers having found stunning racial disparities rife throughout our system, and in the federal system which you will be the chief law enforcement officer of.”


The nominee said he would back such a study.

Barr was seen as an advocate for more incarceration during his past term as attorney general during the George H. W. Bush administration. He had signed off on a 1992 DOJ report called “The Case for More Incarceration,” as reported by Vox.

Barr also appeared to offer a defense of those practices, saying that “1992 was a different time” and that the crime rate has fallen since then.

“I just want to tell you that I was a young black guy in the 1990s, I was a 20-something year told, and experienced a dramatically different justice system and the treatment that I received,” Booker replied.

Booker, a potential 2020 contender, said that he believed Barr’s heart “was in the right place” and that he thought Barr believed mass incarceration would assist black communities.

“Do you think, just yes or no, that this system of mass incarceration has disproportionately benefited African American communities?” Booker asked.

“I think that the heavy drug penalties, especially on crack and other things, have harmed the black community, the incarceration rates on the black community,” Barr replied.

The New Jersey Democrat also noted that he and Barr had not yet met in-person. he asked the nominee to meet with him for a "heart-to-heart," to which Barr agreed.