Transcript for Joe Biden pressed on supporting a 1994 crime bill
in here from Angelica. I’m sorry. Not at all. Republican who voted for president trump last time. Thank you, George. Thank you vice president Biden, nice to meet you. What is your view on the crime bill that you wrote in 1994, which showed prejudice against minorities? Where do you stand today on that? Well, first of all, things have changed drastically. That crime bill, the black caucus voted for it, every black mayor supported it across the board. The crime bill itself did not have mandatory sentences except for two things. It had three strikes and you’re out, which I voted against in the crime bill, but it had a lot of other things in it that turned out to be both bad and I wrote the violence against women act, that was part of it, the assault weapons ban and other things that were good. What I was against was giving states more money for prison systems that they could bill. State prison systems. And you have 93 out of every 100 people in jail now is in a state prison, not in a federal prison, because they built more prisons. I also wrote into that bill a thing called drug courts. I don’t believe anybody should be going to jail for drug use. They should be going into mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building rehab centers to have these people housed. We should wipe out — we should decriminalize marijuana, wipe out the records so you can actually say, have you ever been arrested for anything, you can say no, because we’re going to pass a law saying there is no background that you have to reveal relative to the use of marijuana. And so, there’s a lot of things, but in addition to that, we got to change the system. Ined with a group of people in the house to provide for changing the system from punishment to rehabilitaon. Along with a guy named Arlen spector, who you may remember — In the meantime, a lot of people were jailed for minor drug crimes after — Exactly right. Was it a mistake to support Yes, it was. But here’s where the mistake came. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally. What we did federally, we said — you remember, George, it was all about the same time for the same crime. What I had D as chairman of the judiciary committee, I took the ten circuit courts of appeals, took some really brilliant lawyers working for me in the judiciary, we did a study and we determined what happens if, for the first, second, third offense, for any crime in the criminal justice system and the — at the federal level, if you are a black man, it’s the first time you commit a robbery, how long would you go to jail on average, if you’re a white man, how long? Black man would go to jail on average 13 years, white man, two years. I go down the list of every single crime. So, we set up a sentencing commission — we didn’t set the time — every single solitary maximum was reduced in there, but what happened was, it became the same time for the same crime. So, it said, you have to serve between one and three years, ended up becoming much lower, black folks went to jail a lot less than they would have before, but it was a mistake. Let me ask another followup. It funded 100,000 people back in 1994. Do you believe that more cops mean less crimes? Yes, if they have not involved in jump squads. When we had community policing, from the mid ’90s until bush got elected, what happened? Violent crime actually went down. Remember, the significant rise in violent crime that was occurring in the late ’80s into the ’90s. It went down and fewer African-Americans were arrested because you had the requirement, the cops didn’t like it, they didn’t like the community policing, because you had to have two people in a vehicle, they had to get out of their cars, they had to introduce themselves to who owned the local grocery store, who was the woman on the corner, they would give phone numbers. The cop would give the phone number. So, if Nelly Smith was on the second floor where drug deals took place and things happened below her, her apartment, she could call and say, it’s Nelly and there’s something going on here and they would never reveal it was her, because if she knew that, in fact, they reported, she would never report. So, it actually started to come what happened? They eliminated the funding for community policing. Community policing doesn’t mean more people coming in swarming or nothing like that. It turned out by the time we got to the late ’90s, crime had come down so much and the mayors an everybody asked the question, where do you want me to spend the money? They say, well, only 1% thought violent crime was a problem. It was as high as 22%. Right now, we have a systemic problem. How do you get the kind of policing, prevent the kind of You have to change the way — one of the things I’m going to do George is set up a national study group made up of cops, social workers, as well as made up of the black community and the brown community to sit down in the white house and over the next year, come up with significant reforms that need to take place within communities. You have to bring them together. One of the things I’ve observed is, you know, the neighborhood I grew up in, you either became a cop, a firefighter or priest. I wasn’t qualified to do any one of them. But here’s the deal, most cops don’t like bad cops. Correct. They don’t like it. That’s correct. And so, what happens is, they get intimidated into not reporting. So, one of the things we do, there has to be transparency available. We have to be able to go in at the federal level, be able to go in and check out whether or not there’s systematic problems within police departments. If, in fact, a cop needs to be tried, it’s not the prosecutor in the community, in the district, you have to go outside the community to get another prosecutor to come in the to handle the crime. There’s a lot of things we’ve learned and it takes time, but we can do this. You can ban chokeholds, you can — but beyond that, you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. De-escalate. So, instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg. There’s ways — you have to do more background checks in terms of whether or not the person coming in passes certain psychological tests. And the last thing I’ll say I’m sorry, but it’s really, really important, you have to be in a position where you are able to identify — identify the things that have to change and one of the things that has to change is, so many cops get called into circumstances where somebody is mentally off. Like what happened not long ago, that guy with the knife. That’s why we have to provide — within police departments, psychologists and social workers, to go out with the cops on those calls, some of those 911 calls. To de-escalate the circumstance, to deal with talking them down. But we can’t — cops are kind of like schoolteachers now. Schoolteacher has to know everything from how to handle hunger in a household as well as how to teach you how to read. Well, cops don’t have that breadth. And there’s a lot of things we can do. We shouldn’t be defunding cops, we should be mandating the things that we should be doing within police departments and make sure there’s total transparency. Got to take another quick break. We’ll be right back.
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