President Bill Clinton on Wednesday conceded that over-incarceration in the United States stems in part from policies passed under his administration.
Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill in 1994 that included the federal "three strikes" provision, mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. On Wednesday, Clinton acknowledged that policy's role in over-incarceration in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison," Clinton said Wednesday. "And we wound up...putting so many people in prison that there wasn't enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives."In an interview with Esquire in 2000, however, Clinton said:
So there was '93 and '94 where we did a lot of the things that caused us to lose the Congress but basically ensured the success of America. I mean, the economic plan brought us back; the crime bill had a lot to do with bringing down the crime rate.In a 2007 debate, Joe Biden got in the act:
And I do have -- I do have a record of significant accomplishment. The crime bill, which became known as the Clinton crime bill, was written by Joe Biden, the Biden crime bill. That required me to cross over, get everyone together, not -- no one's civil liberties were in any way jeopardized.
We put 100,000 cops on the street. Violent crime came down.