On Joe Biden’s crime bill anniversary, are we headed down the same pernicious path?

Photo by Dirck Halstead/Getty Images

Tuesday was the 28thth Violent Crime Control Law Enforcement Act (more generally 1994 Crime BillThis controversial law contains many clauses on 356 pages and at the time was “The Largest Crime Bill in U.S. History” Sen. Biden, who was then head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, created “crime-tough” language, which was then signed into law by President Clinton.

More than a quarter-century later, opponents of the law are still critical, with many arguing that it contributed fundamentally to our nation’s mass incarceration problem. world. ”

The law established a ban on assault weapons and contained serious incidents, but violence against womenwhich has greatly helped reduce domestic violence incidents, the law “[s]States and local governments were encouraged by massive infusions of federal funds to build more prisons and jails and pass so-called truth sentencing laws and other punitive measures.Release of those imprisoned,” wrote american progress center.

The 1994 Act was particularly problematic given its interaction with and reinforcement of the Substance Abuse Act of 1986. The bill gave him a minimum five-year sentence for five grams of crack cocaine, but he needed 500 grams of powdered cocaine to serve the same sentence. Because crack is cheaper than powdered, it is more common in low-income communities, which are “likely to be predominantly black.”

On Joe Biden's crime bill anniversary, are we headed down the same pernicious path?
US President Bill Clinton (left) hugs Democratic Senator Joseph Biden during the signing of the crime bill on the South Lawn of the White House on September 13, 1994. – President Clinton said the crime bill would “reverse this egregious tide of violence” in the United States. (Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images)

Around the brookings institute,”[m]Of course, everyone sees the 1994 Crime Bill as the main cause of the problems discussed here, even if the truth is much more complicated than that. ”

Reflecting on the legacy of the 1994 crime bill, ESSENCE sat down with members of Congress. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and Dr. Amara Enyia, Policy and Research Manager Black Lives for Black Liveswhich is an “ecosystem of individuals and organizations creating a shared vision and policy agenda to gain rights, recognition, and resources for Black people.”

During his freshman year in Congress, Rep. Scott, then the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on the crime subcommittee, became a major opponent of the 1994 crime bill. When asked about that time, Congressman Scott said: The 1994 Crime Bill was essentially a political document, stringing together all the poll-tested slogans and appropriate words, called the Crime Bill. ”

According to Dr. Enyia, “When we talk about the role of mass incarceration in destabilizing families and entire communities, and its transgenerational repercussions, we still feel the effects of the 1994 Crime Bill. From the conditions under which people, especially blacks, were labeled as super-predators, to the development of the Three Strikes Rule, to the already unjust criminal justice system, these All that was given even more resources to continue the actions that devastated the black community.”

During our conversation, Dr. Enya was adamant about the fact that “we need to invest in things that actually create strong individuals, strong families and strong communities, and not just spend money on police and police infrastructure.” .

“We know what happens when generations of people are separated from their families and when communities lack stability. We cannot support or defend measures that are inhumane or unconstitutional. Because it will always do more harm to black people.

Regarding current efforts on criminal justice reform, Rep. Scott remains hopeful about the future, saying: [President] Bill Clinton no longer defends it. It served a political purpose, but there was no concern about actually reducing crime or its impact on minorities. You were seen as vulnerable to crime when you talked about criminal policy. increase. It is mostly prevention and early intervention. ”

https://www.essence.com/news/1994-crime-bill-anniversary/ On Joe Biden’s crime bill anniversary, are we headed down the same pernicious path?

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