Opinion For criminal justice reform to work, Biden must dismantle damage done by 1994 crime bill
Senate closes in on bipartisan police reform deal
A bipartisan deal for police reform is close to done on Capitol Hill among key negotiators, according to those familiar with the discussions. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has said he wants a deal on police reform by the end of June. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, is confident that he can bring at least 10 of his GOP colleagues along with him to support a bill and break a potential filibuster. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., have negotiated with Scott but face pressure from progressive groups to push for measures that, if left out, could make it hard to get enough Democratic votes for a compromise.
I am an adjunct lecturer in New York University's school of social work. I have seen what happens to young Black and brown men trapped in the injustice of our criminal system. I've also lived it, spending 19 years cycling in and out of prison before earning degrees in social work and turning my life around.
So I've been watching closely as President Joe Biden has shaped the beginning of his presidency as one that champions equity and racial and social justice reform. But he has yet to fully address how he will fix the damage caused by his 1994 crime bill – the act is, in part, responsible for the severe overincarceration of young Black and brown men who disproportionately populate the country's juvenile and adult prisons.
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He was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and created and pushed the legislation through Congress that prompted men like me to be called "predators."
It's impossible to bring equity to criminal justice without fully dismantling the biases in the. Biden should use executive orders to eliminate the most damaging aspects that the hasn't already addressed. One example: He could adjust found in the crime bill. That regulation rewards states that force offenders to serve 85% of their time before they are eligible for parole.
Since Biden's famous speech on the Senate floor in 1993 advocating for the crime bill and its passage, much has changed for the worse. Scholarly articles, criminal justice movements and documentaries such asas well as famed activist and author Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" all .
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In November 2008, the night former President Barack Obama was elected, I was sitting in a state correctional institution when the wheels of change began happening in my life. His election inspired in me a sense of hope, as it did for so many Americans. I learned that not only could America change, but I could, too.
Before then, I had spent 15 years absorbing the "superpredator" messaging that started in the 1990s.
Those most impacted by the crime bill were people from poor Black and brown communities who, after serving their time, were released to the same impoverished neighborhoods with no access to employment or educational opportunities and no access to government assistance programs.
Severely stigmatized by society, this was only part of the collateral damage that would ensue for Black and brown inmates. For so many, the cycle of incarceration continues. Each year since that legislation, more young Black and brown folks have found themselves trapped in a caste system, with no remedy or relief.
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Biden was right in 1993 when he shared on the Senate floor that society had failed these communities. But he was wrong in his assessment of how America should address the issues: ""
He was wrong to tell the American people that it didn't matter how Black and brown people got stuck at the bottom. It was wrong to demonizeas a "cadre of young people ... born out of wedlock," deprived, without parents, having no socialization skills or conscience. He made them scapegoats for political gain.
A rippling effect over decades
This is not an attack on the Biden administration. In spite of Biden's crime bill mistake, I voted for him and Vice President Kamala Harris.
I watched with intent every comment and speech that he, as well as other candidates, made while on the campaign trail on the issue of justice reform in America. I also watched every debate.
Even former. Trump also signed the First Step Act – the first major attempt since the Obama administration’s to undo some of the damage caused by the 1994 crime bill.
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LONDON (AP) — When U.S. President Joe Biden flies to Europe this week, he will find his hosts welcoming but wary. His predecessor Donald Trump may be gone, but he leaves a long shadow. Biden’s first foreign trip as president starts Wednesday and includes a gathering of the Group of Seven wealthy nations by the seaside in southwest England, a NATO summit, a meeting with European Union chiefs, and then a tete-a-tete in Geneva with his Russian counterpart and adversary, Vladimir Putin.For most of America’s allies, Biden is a relief.
It is my hope that this column will put a human face, a lived experience and a voice of reason on that disproportionate impact. It has had a rippling societal impact far beyond the lengthy prison sentences this legislation called for. There was a time when the most difficult question for me to answer when seeking employment was, "Do you have a high school diploma?" After 1993, the most difficult question became, "Have you ever been incarcerated?"
The crime bill brought more emphasis to that last question, and in my experience and that of others, employers started pressing more for information. They were afraid to hire us. We were considered liabilities. Without access to employment opportunities, some attempted to access government benefit programs, only to learn that because of provisions in the(signed by President Bill Clinton two years after the crime bill), convicted felons who had served time for drug offenses were restricted from participating in government programs.
Although the crime bill calledin drug treatment programs, the . And the programs themselves were ineffective, providing no continued services or resources to returning citizens upon release. Addiction is not a one-shot or a three-strike deal but a lifetime process; low-level offenders who were no more than recovering addicts were given life sentences.
Jill Biden to meet the Queen
Almost five months into her new job, Jill Biden is still revealing what kind of first lady she wants to be, but one thing is already clear: you can call her "Jill."Biden has insisted at just about every turn that people address her by her first name. She means it -- people actually call her that or, sometimes, "Dr. B." The familiar approachability is part of the Biden narrative, and an aspect of her personality into which she leans hard.
POLICING THE USA:
I commend this administration for moving forward toand for submitting a request to the Supreme Court to give given for other low-level offenses under the First Step Act. I also commend Biden's admission that the 1994 crime bill was a mistake.
But the damage has been done.
In 1993, Biden stated thatthat the crime bill was the best way to solve this "cadre of young people" problem. Nearly three decades later, we know that the consensus was wrong.
Today, the bill is seen as an utter failure – one that has created more damage to Black and brown communities than nearly any other legislation in American history. It has propped up mass incarceration and is discriminatory.
President Biden, exercise executive power. Hear the pleas, cries and pains of Black and brown communities across the country who stand with and by you.
Terrance Coffie is an adjunct professor at, a contributing author to and the founder of .
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Biden and his aviators greet queen on a sunny afternoon .
WINDSOR, England (AP) — President Joe Biden and his aviator sunglasses met Queen Elizabeth II on bright Sunday afternoon. The queen hosted the president and first lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle, her royal residence near London. Biden flew to London after wrapping up his participation in a three-day summit of leaders of the world's wealthy democracies in Cornwall, in southwestern England. He arrived at the castle aboard the presidential helicopter and was ferried to the queen in a black Range Rover.