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Joe Biden says supporting 1994 crime bill was a “mistake”

However, the Democratic presidential candidate did defend some aspects of the controversial bill during last night’s town hall.

Joe Biden Reuters

Last night, Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off — virtually — in dual televised town halls. During Biden’s segment, the former vice president was asked about his support for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which has been widely criticized for the targeting and mass incarceration of African Americans.

When asked by host and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos whether or not supporting the controversial bill was a mistake, Biden replied, “Yes, it was.”

However, the Democrat defended some portions of the bill and said that the majority of the “mistakes” came as a result of how individual states enforced it.

“The mistake came from what the states did locally,” he said. “What we did federally… it was all about the same time for the same crime.”

Biden also noted that at the time of its passage, the legislation was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus and several Black mayors. But, he repeated, “it was a mistake.”

Moving forward, Biden said he supported “mandatory rehabilitation” rather than incarceration for drug use offenses. Furthermore, he pledged to federally decriminalize marijuana and “wipe out the records” of those who have been arrested or charged for marijuana-related offenses in the past.

“I don’t believe anybody should be going to jail for drug use,” Biden said.

Elsewhere in the town hall, Stephanopoulos pressed Biden about his plans for police reform after a summer full of protests. He also asked the candidate if he still stands behind his past statements that “more cops means less crime.”

“Yes, if in fact they’re involved in community policing; not jump squads,” Biden answered.

“Most cops don’t like bad cops. They don’t like it. And so what happens is they’re intimidated into not reporting,” he added. “So, there has to be transparency available… to check out if there’s systematic problems within police departments.”

While emphasizing the need for “community policing,” Biden said his administration would set up a national study that called on police, social workers and members from Black and brown communities who would work together to identify necessary reforms.

See clips from his Thursday night (Oct. 15) town hall below.

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