De Blasio: Biden Has to Be Accountable for 1994 Crime Bill Vote

May 26, 2019

New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio said former vice president Joe Biden must be accountable for his vote in favor the 1994 crime bill during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

"Your fellow Democratic candidate Kamala Harris recently split with the front runner Joe Biden over his vote in 1994 for the crime bill. Biden says that that did not generate mass incarceration. Harris disagrees. Who's right?" host Dana Bash asked.

"That crime bill was one of the foundations of mass incarceration in a very painful era in our nation's history. Look, the vice president and anyone else has to be accountable for every vote they take and what's on their record. I think that was a huge mistake," de Blasio said. "Look, we have a mass incarceration crisis still in this country. In our city we've reduced our jail population about 30 percent already. We're going to close the infamous Riker's Island jail. We are ending the era of mass incarceration in New York City."

"It's taking a lot work to finally break free from that, but let's face it federal policies, including that crime bill, were a big part of why untold thousands of people and families had their lives entirely disrupted and in many ways destroyed because folks who had done very little were sent to very long sentences. We've got to break out of that and anyone responsible has to be accountable and has to speak to it," de Blasio continued.

Earlier this month, Biden and Harris disagreed over the impact of the crime bill. Biden claimed the legislation "did not generate mass incarceration," while Harris contended "it did contribute to mass incarceration in our country."

In 2016, Biden said he was "not at all" ashamed of the bill, although last month he claimed he "got stuck" writing it because he was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Harris's brother-in-law helped write the legislation.