Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Wednesday night that the 1994 “three strikes” crime bill that he authored “did not put more people in jail.”
Biden was asked if he was “aware of the impact [the bill] had on the black community” and whether he would support such legislation today, at a CNN town hall in Charleston, South Carolina.
The former vice president was quick to defend the legislation and claimed, “I’ve commented on it a hundred times.” (RELATED: Joe Biden Has Endorsed Segregation, Calling It ‘Black Pride’)
“Let’s get the context here,” Biden told the audience member. “The crime rate was incredibly high. It did not put more people in jail like it’s argued. It was supported by the black caucus and the black mayors across the country.”
The legislation, part of former President Bill Clinton’s tough on crime agenda, held harsh penalties for anyone convicted of three criminal offenses, sometimes ensuring a lifetime in prison.
Biden insisted that unlike New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce crime, “There was no stop and frisk. It set up everything from drug courts to ban assault weapons to the Violence Against Women Act.“
The former Democratic Delaware senator admitted the bill “had things in it I didn’t like” such as money for state prisons but Biden said “on balance” he wholly supported the legislation because it supported community policing and didn’t encourage “arresting people and throwing them against walls” — a reference to Bloomberg’s comments from Bloomberg at a Feb. 6, 2015 Aspen Security Institute event that recently surfaced. The former mayor was vigorously defending stop and frisk, even if police had to “throw” minority males “up against the wall and frisk them.” (RELATED: Joe Biden Makes His Last Stand In South Carolina)
Although Biden has referred to himself as the “most progressive” Democrat running for president, he has supported many conservative policies throughout his long political career, including support for traditional marriage.
Health care experts have also accused Biden of promulgating legislation throughout his career in the Senate that exacerbated the current opioid crisis.
Biden mistakenly told supporters that he was “a candidate for the United States Senate” and during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate he said guns have taken the lives of 150 million Americans since 2007 — approximately half the current population of the United States.