Kamala Harris: Joe Biden wrong, 1994 crime bill did contribute to ‘mass incarceration’

May 15, 2019 GMT

Sen. Kamala D. Harris said 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joseph R. Biden Jr. is wrong to say that a 1994 crime bill he helped write did not generate “mass incarceration.”

“I have a great deal of respect for [former] Vice President Joe Biden, but I disagree with him,” Ms. Harris told reporters Wednesday while campaigning in New Hampshire, according to CNN. “That crime bill that 1994 crime bill did contribute to mass incarceration in our country.”

“It ... was the first time that we had a federal three strikes law,” she said. “It funded the building of more prisons in the states. So I disagree, sadly.”


Mr. Biden had said earlier in the week in New Hampshire that mass incarceration arose from states imposing mandatory minimum sentences and not the crime bill itself.

He did say one big mistake in the bill was imposing stiffer federal penalties for crack cocaine than powder cocaine.

Liberal opposition to the bill could be a hurdle for Mr. Biden as he tries to prove his mettle among Democrats’ left wing in the 2020 nominating contest.

During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ eventual presidential nominee, went as far as apologizing for unintended consequences of the bill, which she supported when Bill Clinton, her husband, was president.

Ms. Harris also said on Wednesday that Mr. Biden would make a “great running mate.”

“If people want to speculate about running mates, I encourage that,” she said. “I think that Joe Biden would be a great running mate. As vice president, he’s proven that he knows how to do the job.”