Bill Clinton put on his Captain Obvious cape and told a group of churchgoers what most of Black America already knows: that his 1994 crime bill dropped a sledgehammer on the African-American community. He made the revelation this past weekend at Antioch Baptist Church in Harlem.
In an appearance where he was campaigning for his wife Hillary Clinton‘s presidential bid, the former President of the United States admitted that his 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act may have locked one too many Black people up.
“We overdid it in putting too many young nonviolent offenders in jail for too long,” Clinton said according to the NY Daily News. “Let these people out of jail. Give them education, training.”
It should be mentioned that the bill also banned prisoners from receiving Pell Grants to continue their education.
Clinton also shared his thoughts on police reform saying that people did not deserve to be “strangled on the street for selling three illegal cigarettes” in reference to the NYPD killing of Eric Garner.
This is not the first time Clinton “admitted” the harshness of the bill. In July 2015 he told a crowd at an N.A.A.C.P. convention in Washington, D.C. that he “signed a bill that made the problem worse.”
Fun fact: The bill was written by current Vice-President Joe Biden, who has been rather quiet now that the bill is back in the news.
The 1994 crime bill has come under new scrutiny during the 2016 Presidential campaign as video surfaced of Mrs. Clinton supporting the bill in hope of getting “super predators” off the street. Many have interpreted the phrase as a slight against young Black people. Media outlets and protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement have confronted both Clintons about the bill and its aftermath.
The most recent conflict happened in Philadelphia last week when former President Clinton was interrupted by protesters criticizing the bill.