Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Monday night that, “in 1994, Biden led the charge on a crime bill that put millions of Black Americans behind bars.”
The crime bill Scott references contributed to mass incarceration, studies have shown. Here’s more context for the claim.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, or the 1994 crime bill as it became known, earmarked billions in funding for states to build new prisons, train and hire additional police, expanded the federal death penalty and instituted a federal “three-strikes” life sentence mandate.
Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, helped write the bill, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Critics in both major political parties — not only Trump, but several of Biden’s former rivals for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who is now his running mate — have said it contributed to mass incarceration.
Different studies have come to different conclusions. Some — like a 2016 Brennan Center analysis — have noted that though the bill was not the root cause of “mass incarceration,” it was “the most high-profile legislation to increase the number of people behind bars.
The crime bill granted states billions to build prisons if they passed laws requiring inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, the Brennan Center said, noting that 30 states introduced or amended laws between 1995 and 1999 so that they would be in compliance and receive the money. By 1999, 42 states had “truth-in-sentencing” laws on the books, which contributed to an increase in imprisonment.
But a 2019 report titled “Racial Disparity in U.S. Imprisonment across States and Over Time,” published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, found that while the law increased overall mass incarceration, it did not widen the existing disparity between Black people and white people being imprisoned.
“Whatever its other effects, this suggests that the 1994 crime bill did not aggravate the preexisting racial disparity in imprisonment,” the report said.
Others like Marc Mauer, the executive director of The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform and advocacy group, have said that suggestions that the bill was the key driver of mass incarceration were “off base.”
“Prison populations began to rise in 1973, and reached double-digit annual percentage increases in the 1980s. This was a national phenomenon, largely taking place at the state level, where more than 85 percent of prisoners are housed,” Mauer wrote for NBC News in 2016. “During these years virtually every state adopted some form of mandatory sentencing and harsher penalties for juvenile offenders, while also ramping up arrests for drug offenses.”
Hallie Jackson and Kristen Welker
12m ago / 4:12 AM UTC
New Republicans-against-Trump group includes current officials, founder says
Former Department of Homeland Security official Miles Taylor confirmed on Monday the creation of an anti-Trump group called the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR). The group is made up of former U.S. officials, advisers and conservatives and organized by ex-Trump administration officials, Taylor said.
Taylor says at least two “senior officials” currently serving in the administration are joining the group, “anonymously at least at the outset,” predicting that their presence will “irk” the president.
“We’ll have a broad group of Republicans focused on denying Trump a second term and, most importantly, planning for a post-Trump GOP and America,” he said.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
No platform, a reverence for Trump: 4 key takeaways from Night 1
While the Democratic convention focused on persuasion and de-emphasized base mobilization, the Republican convention so far is focusing on base mobilization and de-emphasizing persuasion.
The president and his allies said the nation is spiraling into chaos and violence, promising that he will work to address it. The convention painted a dark and dystopian vision of the country if he were to lose to the Democratic ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, who were portrayed throughout as beholden to “radicals.”
The effectiveness of the approach remains to be seen, but the mood on opening day was far from the “very optimistic and upbeat convention this week” that Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller previewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Tim Scott’s speech gets high marks on Twitter
Senator Tim Scott. What a speech.
“Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime.”
— BDW (@BryanDeanWright) August 25, 2020
Tim Scott gave by far the strongest speech of the night.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) August 25, 2020
Tim Scott was very very good. And he’s a good man. I appreciate his voice.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 25, 2020
Not coincidentally, the strength of Tim Scott’s speech was the first two-thirds, which was heavy on bio and aspiration, and really faded at the close w/ attacks on Biden. He’s just not a negative guy, and it shows.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) August 25, 2020
Senator Tim Scott making a pitch to voters beyond the Trump base with his compelling personal story and remarkable approach to politics
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) August 25, 2020
Biden, Democrats focus their RNC counter-attack on Trump’s ‘failed’ COVID-19 response
The opening night of the Republican National Convention railed against socialism, cancel culture, “woketopians,” labor unions and calls to defund the police. But Democrats ignored much of that to keep their focus on President Trump’s coronavirus crisis.
Democrats didn’t engage with the red meat GOP speakers tossed to the virtual crowds and instead just referred back to the chaos they say Trump has caused in office.
“What (voters) will hear from Donald Trump this week are the last things our country needs: more desperate, wild-eyed lies and toxic division in vain attempts to distract from his mismanagement,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Democratic nominee. “What they won’t hear is what American families have urgently needed and been forced to go without for over seven consecutive months: any coherent strategy for defeating the pandemic.”
Tim Scott, GOP’s lone Black senator, ties his personal story to Trump’s re-election
Tim Scott, one of the most prominent Black Republicans in America, gave a stirring speech on Monday tying his personal journey from college dropout and son of a single working mother to lawmakers to Trump’s vision for the country’s future.
“Do we want a society that breeds success, or a culture that cancels everything it even slightly disagrees with?” Scott in his speech — which was notably different than other speakers on the main stage in that Trump was not the main focus — touted his legislative relationship with the president on the economy and education.
He painted Biden and Harris as the leaders of “radical Democrats” who want to turn American into a “socialist utopia.”
His speech was also designed as a pitch to Black voters, who almost universally support Biden and the Democratic ticket. Scott, who is the first Black senator from the South since Reconstruction, talked about Biden’s role in crafting the crime bill in the ’90s and his gaffes on race.
“Make no mistake, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution. A fundamentally different America,” he said.
Fact check: Did Biden call Trump a racist over his coronavirus response?
“The president quickly took action and shut down travel from China. Joe Biden and his Democrat allies called my father a racist and xenophobe for doing it,” Trump Jr. claimed during his primetime Monday night address.
Biden has not directly called the president’s travel restriction — which shut down some travel into the U.S. from China in earlier days of the pandemic — xenophobic and racist, but he did denounce Trump’s coronavirus response as “xenophobic” both a day after the travel restriction was announced and in another tweet in March.
Was Biden describing the travel ban or the racist term Trump uses to describe the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan? Here’s the tweet.
Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job. https://t.co/nQ5aLVrpyb
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 18, 2020
Biden has, more generally, characterized Trump as a racist.
“The way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” the Democratic nominee said in July, when asked about the president’s repeated use of the racist term for the virus. “We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed. They’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.”
Fact check: Echoing Trump, McCloskey warns that Biden wants to abolish suburbs. (He doesn’t).
Patty McCloskey, who along with her husband was caught on video brandishing firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home in June, used her Republican National Convention speech to accuse Joe Biden and “radical” Democrats of wanting “to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning.”
“This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into now thriving suburban neighborhoods,” said McCloskey, who, along with her husband, Mark, was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for the June incident.
These claims are all false.
Her statement echoes a key campaign claim by Trump, who has pointed to Biden’s support for an Obama-era rule designed to combat racial discrimination in housing as the basis of this allegation.
The policy pushed by Biden, however, only aims to help the federal government work with local government agencies to create more affordable housing units in all communities. That includes in “communities where U.S. government policies purposely excluded their ability to buy homes and rent homes” — like the suburbs.
The broader rule in question, the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule (AFFH), was designed to help implement provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Political analysts, including NBC News’ Jon Allen, have pointed out that Trump, in saying that Biden wants to abolish the suburbs,” is actually saying that Biden just trying to enforce a federal rule designed to counter segregation in housing.
“His campaign sounds more like George Wallace than Ronald Reagan,” Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told Allen last month. “His message is clear: ‘Elect me and I’ll keep Black people out of your neighborhoods and out of your schools.'”
Suburbs, of course, are, loosely defined; they are simply the areas around major metropolitan areas with more wealth and less housing density. And while it is accurate to say the racial composition of suburbs has changed significantly over time (in 2018, Pew reported that the white share of the population in suburban counties had fallen 8 percent, to 68 percent, since 2000), communities within suburbia remain highly segregated — for a complex set of reasons, Allen noted.
Trump, however, has said as much, arguing that local agencies should get federal housing subsidies even if they refuse to desegregate.
“The Democrats in D.C. have been and want to at a much higher level abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs by placing far-left Washington bureaucrats in charge of local zoning decisions,” Trump said at a White House event last month. “Our plan is to protect the suburbs from being obliterated by Washington Democrats, by people on the far Left that want to see the suburbs destroyed — that don’t care. People who have worked all their lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to hell.”
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