On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden recently released his plan to reform the criminal justice system, which aims to attack the many harsh policies that lead to injustices. Reason reports that Biden himself was a supporter of many of the policies he seeks to eliminate.
“Equality, equity, justice—these ideas form the American creed. We have never lived up to it and we haven’t always gotten it right, but we’ve never stopped trying,” Biden said in a campaign video that is viewable on Twitter. “The public is ready. They’re ready. They’ve had enough.”
Despite the positive changes Biden is making, it’s worth noting that his new battle involves tearing down his own legacy. For example, as a Delaware senator, Biden co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. It also drew a line between crack and powder cocaine in terms of sentencing — a disparity Biden now wants to eliminate.
Biden also sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 — which he now wants to abolish — that expanded the application of the death penalty, as well as the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which was responsible for bolstering state mass incarceration through the funding of prison creation. Notably, Biden has been known to call the latter the Biden Crime Law, which the Center for American Progress says “increased the number and length of prison sentences while reducing the possibility of early release for those incarcerated.”
Biden is calling for the abolition of mandatory minimum sentencing and the death penalty—two policies he helped expand. https://t.co/wvamAOKAV9— reason (@reason) July 23, 2019
The 76-year-old will likely continue to receive criticism for his record on crime, but supporters nevertheless claim he is evolving and injecting positivity into his campaign. Reuters reports that a senior Biden campaign official directly addressed criticisms of Biden’s past.
“People are going to weaponize his service in Congress against him,” they said. “He is not going to allow his record to be mischaracterized. This plan is a true reflection of what he believes: he believes in second chances.”
Per The Hill, a new Economist/YouGov poll reports that Biden has a 7-point lead in the Democratic 2020 field. He is the first choice for 25 percent of people that claim they intend to vote in their state’s primary or caucus, followed by Elizabeth Warren, who has 18 percent support. Bernie Sanders is in third place with 13 percent support, Kamal Harris is in fourth with 9 percent, and in fifth is Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent.
Julian Castro has 3 percent support, and Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, and Cory Booker have 2 percent support.