(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Hillary Clinton distanced herself from her husband’s criminal justice legacy on Wednesday, labeling the system that he actively supported as “profoundly wrong.”
“We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance,” Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a speech at Columbia University.
She acknowledged the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police. “From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable,” she said. “Walter Scott shot in the back in Charleston, South Carolina — unarmed, in debt, terrified of spending more time in jail for child support payments he couldn’t afford. Tamir Rice shot in the park in Cleveland, Ohio, unarmed and just 12 years old. Eric Garner, choked to death after being stopped for selling cigarettes on the streets of our city. And now Freddie Gray, his spine nearly severed while in police custody.”
But her call to “end the era of mass incarceration” comes in stark contrast to the policies that her husband Bill espoused during his presidency.
During Bill Clinton’s eight years in the White House, the number of people imprisoned by the federal government nearly doubled, from 85,565 in 1993 to 156,572 in 2001.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 he signed into law played a major role in that increase. The former president acknowledged on Tuesday that the system “put too many people in prison” during his two terms in the White House.
Hillary Clinton has also been a longtime advocate of the death penalty, though with restrictions. During her time as a Democratic senator from New York, Clinton co-sponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003. It became law a year later under the Justice for All Act, allowing funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishing a DNA testing system for those sentenced to execution.
Clinton also called for body cameras for every police department in the country.
As usual, Clinton did not take questions from the press after her speech. She did, however, have time to meet with Columbia students after the speech for selfies.
(Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)