Biden: ‘Not At All’ Ashamed of 1994 Clinton Crime Bill

Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton
April 19, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden took credit for drafting the 1994 crime bill Monday, a piece of legislation that both then-president Bill Clinton and his wife have renounced.

Biden said that he was "not at all" ashamed of the controversial bill and underscored his role in crafting it.

"I drafted the bill, as you remember," he said and brushed off criticism that he said comes mostly from the activist movement Black Lives Matter.

"We talk about this mostly in terms of Black Lives Matter. Black lives really do matter, but the problem is institutional racism in America," Biden said, and went on to praise the bill for "reducing sentences," creating drug courts, and putting "100,000 cops on the street."

The bill has garnered criticism for contributing to high mass incarceration rates through its provisions, which included mandatory minimum sentences for minor offenses and a "three strikes" rule that mandated life sentences to offenders convicted of a violent felony and two or more other convictions.

Bill Clinton has since admitted that his policies were "overly broad instead of appropriately tailored," writing in a book about criminal justice that due to his crime policies, "some are in prison who shouldn’t be, others are in for too long."

"We cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison," Clinton told CNN in May, affirming two months later that he "signed a bill that made the problem worse."

Then-first lady Hillary Clinton was also a supporter of the bill but has since acknowledged that aspects of it were too broad and harsh.

"I think that a lot was done that went further than it needed to go and so now we are facing problems with mass incarceration," Clinton said in an August meeting with Black Lives Matter activists. She has been criticized for asserting the need to "end the era of mass incarceration" while herself contributing to it through such efforts as the crime bill.

Despite admitting the bill’s flaws, the former first lady has stood by certain parts of it such as the provisions preventing violence against women. Her husband also found himself defending the crime bill in April, sparring with Black Lives Matter activists at a campaign stop for Hillary.

"She had nothing to do with it," Clinton said in response to the activists, one of whom yelled, "Hillary Clinton is a murderer!"