Debate’s Best Moment: Trump and Biden Bragging on Prison Reform
One of the best moments in the year’s final presidential debate came during a moment of relative agreement: Both President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden repudiated the long legacy of politicians bragging about locking ever larger numbers of people up.
Despite being a self-declared “law and order” candidate, Trump took Biden to task for the former senator and vice president’s role in passing federal crime legislation that “put tens of thousands of mostly black young men in prison” while bragging about the “criminal justice reform, prison reform” he himself passed (such as 2018’s FIRST STEP Act, which reduced the sentences of thousands of drug offenders). Trump also touted his record on granting clemency and pardons, which is ahead of the numbers that Barack Obama had at the same time in his presidency. While Trump erred in saying that Biden had called young black men “superpredators” back in the 1990s (that was Hillary Clinton), he was right that Biden was—in the words of Reason‘s Justin Monticello—”a leading architect of the modern criminal justice system, contributing to mass incarceration and the police misconduct that people are protesting today.”
Biden, who has run away from his indisputable tough-on-crime track record, stressed the leniency displayed by the federal government when he was vice president, noting several times the “38,000 prisoners [who] were released from federal prison” during the Obama administrat
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