What was the #1994CrimeBill?
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was a lengthy crime control bill that was put together over the course of six years. Its provisions implemented many things, including a “three strikes” mandatory life sentence for repeat offenders, money to hire 100,000 new police officers, $9.7bn in funding for prisons, and an expansion of death penalty-eligible offences. It also dedicated $6.1bn to prevention programmes “designed with significant input from experienced police officers”, however, the bulk of the funds were dedicated to measures that are seen as punitive rather than rehabilitative or preventative.
Then-President Clinton signed the bill with the support of First Lady #HillaryClinton.
In the 22 years since the bill was passed, the federal prison population more than doubled. In 1994, the Bureau of Prisons held 95,162 inmates; today that number is over 214,000.
Other policies enacted by the #Clintons had detrimental effects for communities of colour and former inmates returning to society, even if they did not directly cause mass incarceration. One part of the Crime Bill stripped all Pell Grant funding for college education for prisoners, even though education is now seen as an effective tool against recidivism. President Clinton championed a “one strike, you’re out” policy for evicting public housing tenants if they or their guests were involved in any criminal activity, causing a jump in evictions and making it more difficult for former inmates to find housing.
Elizabeth Hinton, assistant professor of history and African and #AfricanAmerican studies, says that the US Sentencing Commission already knew that punitive criminal control and prison policies were disproportionately affecting people of colour.
“Part of this is not just reckoning with the Clinton legacy, but reckoning with the policy choices that both #Democrats and #Republicans have made since the #CivilRightsMovement – replacing social welfare policies with punitive measures.”
“The #ClintonAdministration knew that the criminal justice system was deeply unfair and biased against African Americans, and chose to expand that system.” (BBC.co.uk)
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