Booker, De Blasio Slam Biden for 1994 Crime Bill

Cory Booker
Cory Booker / Getty Images
May 31, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D., NJ) and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio slammed fellow presidential candidate Joe Biden for his support of 1994's criminal justice reform bill.

Booker called the law "awful" and "shameful" in an interview with HuffPost.

"The incentives they put in that bill for people to raise mandatory minimums, for building prisons and jails ― from the time I was in law school to the time I was mayor of the city of Newark, we were building a new prison or jail every 10 days in America while the rest of our infrastructure crumbled ― overwhelmingly putting people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses that members of Congress and the Senate admit to breaking now. That bill was awful," Booker said.

"We should all agree with the force of conviction: That bill was a mistake," Booker continued. "Good people signed on to that bill. People make mistakes. But let’s hold them to that. That crime bill was shameful, what it did to black and brown communities like mine [and] low-income communities from Appalachia to rural Iowa. It was a bad bill."

De Blasio took to Twitter to criticize the bill on Thursday.

"You, . and others should be held accountable for supporting a bill that has torn apart so many families," de Blasio tweeted.

On Sunday, de Blasio called the crime bill "one of the foundations of mass incarceration in a very painful era in our nation's history," adding that "the vice president and anyone else has to be accountable for every vote they take and what's on their record."

Biden's claim that the 1994 bill "did not generate mass incarceration" met pushback from Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) earlier this month.

Politifact rated Biden's claim as "half true."

"In the strictest sense, the law did not launch the massive rise in the prison population. But it was in keeping with pre-existing trends at the state level, and in a limited way, provided funds to expand and keep policies in place that would increase the number of people behind bars. At the same time, the crime bill funded other programs and made changes aimed at keeping people out of prison," Politifact wrote.