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Bill Clinton Calls for End to Mass Incarceration of Americans, Ignoring His Own Role in Creating Policy

BlackMenPrisonAlong with former President Ronald Reagan, President Bill Clinton put in place the elements that created an explosion in mass incarcerations over the past three decades, sweeping a generation of Black men into Americans prisons and destroying Black communities across the country in the process.

As a result, we are at the point where a recent analysis released by Upshot found that for every 100 Black women in Black communities across the US, there are only 83 Black men. The remaining 1.5 million Black men who are missing are either in jail or prematurely died. In Ferguson, which had the biggest imbalance in the country among municipalities with more than 10,000 residents, the gap was 60 Black men for every 100 Black women.

So it is somewhat disconcerting to see former President Clinton leading the chorus of experts talking about the need to reform the incarceration system, to reverse this trend that has made America the world’s most prolific jailer. It is a theme that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to visit today with a speech on prison reform.

“The drop in violence and crime in America has been an extraordinary national achievement. But plainly, our nation has too many people in prison and for too long — we have overshot the mark,” Clinton said in the foreword to a new report, Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice, released by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University that includes a series of essays written by national leaders such as Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker and Cory Booker (yes, the list is very heavy with expected presidential candidates). “With just 5 percent of the world’s population, we now have 25 percent of its prison population, and an emerging bipartisan consensus now understands the need to do better.”

“It has been two decades since there was sustained national attention to criminal justice. By 1994, violent crime had tripled in 30 years. Our communities were under assault,” the former president wrote. “We acted to address a genuine national crisis. But much has changed since then. It’s time to take a clear-eyed look at what worked, what didn’t, and what produced unintended, long-lasting consequences.

“So many of these laws worked well, especially those that put more police on the streets. But too many laws were overly broad instead of appropriately tailored. A very small number of people commit a large percentage of serious crimes — and society gains when that relatively small group is behind bars. But some are in prison who shouldn’t be, others are in for too long, and without a plan to educate, train, and reintegrate them into our communities, we all suffer.”

How much did Clinton contribute to the nation overshooting the mark?

The magnitude of his 1994 crime bill is described in detail by, which outlines how it put 100,000 more police on American streets, authorized billions of dollars for prison construction, forced states to impose harsher sentences on violent offenders to be eligible for prison-construction grants, and deprived federal inmates of access to college courses.

Not only that, but the bill was a major plank in Clinton’s platform when he campaigned for reelection in 1996. Vox quoted from the Democratic Party platform that year, which boasted, “We believe that people who break the law should be punished, and people who commit violent crimes should be punished severely. President Clinton made three-strikes-you’re-out the law of the land, to ensure that the most dangerous criminals go to jail for life, with no chance of parole.”

Vox said that Hillary Clinton’s efforts, along with the other candidates (from both parties), to walk back many of those policies, is “a stunning condemnation of one of the most clear-cut policy failures of Bill Clinton’s presidency” and a sign of how much the policy “fundamentally altered the national political landscape on criminal justice issues.”



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13 thoughts on “Bill Clinton Calls for End to Mass Incarceration of Americans, Ignoring His Own Role in Creating Policy


  2. Eric Brown says:

    Stephanie samuels excuse me but shut your uncle rukus mouth! EVERY SINGLE TIME it looks like we might be winning, somebody like you have to open their mouths… There are lazy cheating bums in every color! The fact that you feel the need to bring that up shines a bright light on how you think about your people!

  3. Fear of Crime in America is real, but does it = NEGROPHOBIA?
    The Warden

  4. Isidore Gray says:

    what a coon you are.

  5. This is why education is so important. Clinton's policies need to be revisited and challenged. He is one of the biggests racists in the world and most people don't realize it. He is the reason for more black incarcerations than anyone. Why do some people praise his presidency, I don't know..

  6. What part are you playing in the community to help break this vicious cycle? It takes a village. It is easy to see the fault in others.

  7. First of all you sorry azzes nothings I've been working with the same community committee since my teens. I have my degree in computer science, an chemical engineering, I served 6 yrs in the Navy and became a commodities broker for ups. Now, BUMPS GET A JOB ….WHAT THE HELL YOU WIN A FREE RIDE ON WORKING MAN AN WOMANS BACK……

  8. ISIDOR you are a TRICK….

  9. Pete Prosser says:

    Bill Clinton is a clown in the same mode as Charles Barkley or Barkleys twin brother Shaug. Irrelevant, looking for press. Absolutely nothing he says has any value. Barack Obama could find himself in the same position, Six years on and still nothing.

  10. Chad is absolutely correct. People when did it become a crime to change course from what was needed at the time to what is needed now? President Clinton's 3 strikes and you're out policy was crucial at a time when gang violence in our neighborhoods were outrageous. We can't sit back in our neighborhoods and be mad ass hell at all the crime and violence, and then turn around and say I don't think that the perpetrators shouldn't be punished so harshly. [email protected]k that! I along with a lot of you have lost love ones and the justice system failed to make an arrest or either they fail to make a conviction. So, to me if your ass is caught doing dirt, then damn it do the [email protected] time….PERIOD! However, there are far to many low level crimes being sentenced with high level crime penalties on our people. That folks, needs to change. That's primarily what President Clinton is trying to address, the disparity of crime vs punishment against minorities brought to so called justice. Let's stop jumping on every emotional bandwagon that some militant writes and speaks about. Let's use our God given good sense and support the things that help make our communities safer and better and call [email protected], [email protected] when [email protected] commit violent crimes and think that they're being punished too harshly for their crimes. Your asses can rot in prison for the rest of your miserable lives or they can turn up the aps up on your ass if they sentence your ass to the chair as far as I'm concerned…..brotha!

  11. Mary E Tyler says:

    Clinton has a big pulpit and a wife running for President. Thus he has an impetus for real change. At least he admits, in hindsight, that he was wrong. It remains to be see, though, if this is just a bald-faced play for black votes, or a real intent to reform law, crime, judicial systems and prisons… all of which stand in desperate need of reform.Sadly, my guess is the former , bc the Republicans will never allow the latter. Even though prisons also incarcerate millions of poor whites, it is more on important to further disadvantage blacks than it is to be actually just… at least as far as Republicans are concerned.

  12. Clinton might have been a conduit of racially bias 90s legislation, but there's not a damn thing wrong with trying to right your wrongs.

  13. make them pay restitution or high fines instead of prison

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