The Libertarian Party released the following statement yesterday. Thank you to Paul Frankel for forwarding the statement to IPR.
Notably absent from President Biden’s State of the Union address was any sort of roadmap to meaningful criminal justice reform. He loudly promised Americans that he would drastically reduce the prison population and end the death penalty, but since he took office, he’s been eerily silent on the issue.
Why Aren’t We Surprised?
Biden’s failure to act on criminal justice reform may surprise some, but many Americans remember Senator Biden’s infamous crime bill.
A collaborative effort with the Association of Police Organizations, Biden drafted the Senate version of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The bill which was passed by a large margin and signed into law by President Clinton changed the face of the criminal justice system in the US. It was responsible for:
- Expanding the federal death penalty;
- Barring new classes of individuals from owning firearms;
- Pulling Pell Grant money from poor, incarcerated men (mostly men of color), effectively taking away their ability to earn a college degree;
- Incentivizing prisons for enforcing a mandatory incarceration period of at least 85% of a person’s sentence;
- Implementing mandatory drug testing on those on federal probation and parole;
- A federal assault weapons ban.
Upon the bill’s rollout, then-Senator Biden laughingly admitted in a press conference that the Association of Police Organizations wrote the bill. He merely signed his name to it.
Unarticulated to the public at the time, the real goal was to rid cities of “undesirables” or men of color… and it worked. The bill’s passage and implementation led to the mass incarceration of black and brown men across the United States.
America needs a criminal justice system that punishes the worst offenders but respects the rights to due process, the presumption of innocence, and a legal framework that leaves consenting adults to live free from punishment for victimless acts.
What the Democrats have demonstrated is that it is up to Libertarians to get it done.
Elected Libertarians across the country are having those conversations. Libertarian Candidates are making criminal justice reform a priority in their campaigns. Libertarian activists continue to put pressure on the 117th Congress and Joe Biden’s White House, letting them know that we need meaningful reform and we need it now.