/  10.23.2020

Last night (Oct. 22), Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in what was their final presidential debate. With election day less than two weeks away, both candidates argued their platforms and past records during the socially distanced event, which was moderated by Kristen Welker.

Speaking about social justice and criminal reform, the conversation turned once again to the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which Biden authored in 1994. The former vice president has previously admitted that the legislation was a mistake. On Thursday, he said of Trump, “In 2000, after the crime bill had been the law for awhile, this is the guy who said, ‘The problem with the crime bill is there’s not enough people in jail.’”

Biden also reminded audiences of Trump’s infamous newspaper ad, which demanded the restoration of the death penalty after five Black and Latino teenagers were falsely accused of raping a woman in Central Park. In 2019, Trump refused to apologize to the wrongly accused men — now known as The Exonerated Five — despite taking out the ad.

“He talked about marauding gangs, young gangs — people who are going to maraud our cities,” Biden said. “This is the guy who when the Central Park Five — five innocent Black kids — he continued to push for making sure that they got the death penalty. None of them were guilty of the crimes that were suggested.”

In response to Trump repeating that “nobody has done more for the Black community” than himself — with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln — Biden recalled the thousands of prison sentences commuted under his and Barack Obama’s administration. The Democrat also mentioned the criminal justice reforms he’s planning to enact if elected, including doing away with minimum mandatory sentences and setting up rehabilitation-focused drug courts.

Watch clips from the debate below.


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