Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden failed to acknowledge criticisms of the 1994 crime bill he was integral in passing during an ABC town hall broadcast from Philadelphia Thursday night.
As a member of the Senate, Biden helped write and pass the bill that has since been used to illustrate systemic racism in the U.S.
Biden noted his lead role in writing the Violence Against Women Act as part of the bill, but not the wholesale incarceration of Black men that mandatory minimum sentencing provisions, allowed by the bill, led to.
“The mistakes came in terms of what the states did locally,” he said.
Last year, however, Biden publicly accepted responsibility for his part in the passage of the legislation, especially that which toughened sentences for crack cocaine possession, calling it a “big mistake” for its damage to the Black community.
He noted that members of the Congressional Black Caucus supported it, although today Black members of Congress, including his running mate California Sen. Kamala Harris, had previously criticized Biden for his part in it.
The Democratic candidate’s town hall was taking place simultaneous to a separate town hall featuring President Donald Trump on NBC News.
Earlier in his event, Biden gave a winding explanation about why he should get the votes of young Black people who may not be enthusiastic about supporting him.
Biden initially touched on the criminal justice system, suggesting it needed to be made “fair” and “more decent” before moving on to an assortment of economic and educational policies.
He said Black Americans need to be given tools to help generate wealth, including increased loans for Black-owned businesses and homeowners.
The former vice president said America also needs to increase its funding for schools with lower-income families and suggested adding more school psychologists in schools. He also proposed adding $70 billion to historically Black colleges and universities.
At the end of his five-minute answer, he offered to provide “a lot more” information to the young Black man who asked the question.