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Joe Biden on Crime

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


1970: DE Public not receiving needed police protection

Joe also set himself up early as a crime fighter and defender of the police. In August 1970, when the New Castle County police released the latest statistics showing a 35 percent increase in major crime in the first six months of the year, candidate Biden accused the Republican-led county officials of "a deplorable lack of leadership," saying the public was "not receiving the police protection to which they are entitled" despite a 17 percent increase in the budget for that purpose. He proposed a four-point program that included an expanded police criminal division and the hiring of a full-time police director to achieve better cooperation between county and state police.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p. 58 , Oct 5, 2010

1990 crime bill: more police & tougher penalties

Biden championed more community policing and spent long hours and days immersing himself in law enforcement culture, frequently attending and addressing police organization meetings. And in a pending crime bill in 1990, Biden fought for more money for police departments, for a ban on assault weapons, and for tougher penalties for drug offenders, the bill was watered down by Republican opposition. Finally, in 1994 Congress passed a $30.2 billion Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, sometimes known simply as the Biden Crime bill, which called for one hundreg thousand more police in the nation's city streets over six years. The measure won strong political support for the Democrats and President Clinton from a police community that earlier had considered the Republicans as the law-and-order party. Biden ballyhooed the Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program as reducing crime for eight straight years, from 1993 through 2001.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.306-307 , Oct 5, 2010

Supreme Court wrong to deny federalization of wife-beating

Q: Are there Supreme Court decisions you disagree with?

A: You know, I’m the guy who wrote the Violence Against Women Act. And I said that every woman in America, if they are beaten and abused by a man, should be able to take that person to court--meaning you should be able to go to federal court and sue in federal court the man who abused you if you can prove that abuse. But they said, “No, for a woman, there’s no federal jurisdiction.” And I held, they acknowledged, I held about 1,000 hours of hearings proving that there’s an effect in interstate commerce.

Women who are abused and beaten and beaten are women who are not able to be in the work force. And the Supreme Court said, “Well, there is an impact on commerce, but this is federalizing a private crime and we’re not going to allow it.” I think the Supreme Court was wrong about that decision.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric , Oct 1, 2008

Bush is impediment to hate crimes legislation

OBAMA: [to Biden]: There is a consequence to the demagoguery [over immigration]--hate crimes against Latinos have gone way up. We’ve also seen this epidemic of nooses being hung all across the country since the events down in Jena. So, what can we do to strengthen the enforcement of hate crimes legislation? It is something that I will prioritize as president but I don’t want to have to wait until I am.

BIDEN: We can and we should move [the pending Hate Crimes legislation] forward. The impediment right now is the president. We need someone in the civil rights division who is aggressive in going after these hate crimes. I would not wait. Why did we not hear immediately from the justice department in the Jena 6? Why did we not hear immediately when the rash of burnings took place? Why did we not hear? The reason is that they are not committed. Hate crimes are just that. The vilest and filthiest of crimes. And when you let one celebrated hate crime go, you generate an attitude.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum , Dec 1, 2007

Biden Law of 1994 created several new capital offenses

Biden is credited for authoring several significant pieces of legislation in the area of federal law enforcement, including The Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994, widely known as the Biden Law, which:The law was passed shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing, and its provisions were applied to execute Timothy McVeigh. The legislation received bipartisan support, but was reviled by death penalty opponents and civil libertarians. Some believe it broke ground for the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.179 , Nov 11, 2007

Supports sentencing guidelines to put away violent criminals

Since the mid-1970s I’d been working on crime issues in the Judiciary Committee, and since the mid-1980s I had been the Democrats’ point man in the Senate on crime legislation. While I have always been a defender of robust civil liberties for the accused, I have worked hard to give police the tools to fight crime--more cops on the street, better equipment, sentencing guidelines that put people away for committing violent crimes. There have been times when my Democratic colleagues have thought I’ve gone too far over to the side of the police in law-and-order issues, but I have always felt that public safety and security is the first duty of government. A government must ensure safe homes, streets, schools, and public places before it can fulfill any other promises.
Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.239 , Jul 31, 2007

Authored the Clinton crime bill & 100,000 cops on the street

I do have a record of significant accomplishment. The crime bill, which became known as the Clinton crime bill, was written by Joe Biden, the Biden crime bill. That required me to cross over, get everyone together, and no one’s civil liberties were in any way jeopardized. We put 100,000 cops on the street. Violent crime came down. So I have a track record of being able to cross over and get things done.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Separate juveniles from adults in jail

I authored that crime bill to put $10 billion in prevention and 100,000 cops on the street. The vast majority of gun crimes are almost all related to drugs. And what we do is we, instead of incarcerating our young blacks and other folks in the inner city who are arrested for a violent crime, instead of separating these juveniles, we put them in with adults. They go ahead and they learn the trade. They learn the trade and they come back out.
Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

Voted YES on reinstating $1.15 billion funding for the COPS Program.

Amendment would increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources. The funding is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.

This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.

Reference: Biden Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.529 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-110 on Mar 23, 2007

Voted YES on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program.

Vote on an amendment to authorize $1.15 billion per year from 2000 through 2005 to continue and expand the Community Oriented Policing Services program. $600 million of the annual funding is marked for hiring additional officers [up to 50,000]
Reference: Bill S.254 ; vote number 1999-139 on May 20, 1999

Voted NO on limiting death penalty appeals.

Vote to table, or kill, a motion to send the bill back to the joint House-Senate conference committee with instructions to delete the provisions in the bill that would make it harder for prisoners given the death penalty in state courts to appeal.
Reference: Bill S.735 ; vote number 1996-66 on Apr 17, 1996

Voted NO on limiting product liability punitive damage awards.

Approval of a limit on punitive damages in product liability cases.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)40; NV)1
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 956; Bill H. R. 956 ; vote number 1996-46 on Mar 21, 1996

Voted NO on restricting class-action lawsuits.

Restriction of class-action security lawsuits.
Status: Veto Overridden Y)68; N)30; P)1
Reference: H.R. 1058 passage over veto; Bill H.R. 1058 ; vote number 1995-612 on Dec 22, 1995

Voted NO on repealing federal speed limits.

Repeal federal speeding limits.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)64; N)36
Reference: Motion to table Lautenberg Amdt #1428; Bill S. 440 ; vote number 1995-270 on Jun 20, 1995

Voted NO on mandatory prison terms for crimes involving firearms.

Vote on the motion to instruct conferees on the bill to insist that the conference report include Mandatory prison terms for the use, possession, or carrying of a firearm or destructive device during a state crime of violence or drug trafficking
Reference: Bill HR.3355 ; vote number 1994-126 on May 19, 1994

Voted NO on rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals.

Vote to express that the Omnibus Crime bill [H.R. 3355] should reject the Racial Justice Act provisions, which would enable prisoners appealing death penalty sentences to argue racial discrimination using sentencing statistics as part of their appeal.
Reference: Bill S 1935 ; vote number 1994-106 on May 11, 1994

Rated 71% by CURE, indicating pro-rehabilitation crime votes.

Biden scores 71% by CURE on rehabilitation issues

CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a membership organization of families of prisoners, prisoners, former prisoners and other concerned citizens. CURE's two goals are

  1. to use prisons only for those who have to be in them; and
  2. for those who have to be in them, to provide them all the rehabilitative opportunities they need to turn their lives around.
The ratings indicate the legislator’s percentage score on CURE’s preferred votes.
Source: CURE website 00n-CURE on Dec 31, 2000

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Biden co-sponsored the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act:

Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.

Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.

  1. Award grants to assist State and local law enforcement officials with extraordinary expenses for interstate hate crimes.

  2. Award grants to State and local programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

  3. Prohibit specified offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

  4. Increase criminal sentencing for adult recruitment of juveniles to commit hate crimes.

  5. Collect and publish data about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on gender.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1343 on Apr 3, 2001

Establish a domestic violence volunteer attorney network.

Biden introduced establishing a domestic violence volunteer attorney network

National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act - Authorizes grants to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence to work in collaboration with the American Bar Association Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and other organizations to create, recruit lawyers for, and provide training, mentoring, and technical assistance for a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network.

Requires the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice to designate five states in which to implement the pilot program of a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Referral Project and distribute funds under this Act.

Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report to Congress on the scope and quality of legal representation and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, including the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Source: Domestic Violence Attorney Network Act (S.1515/H.R.6088) 07-S1515 on May 24, 2007

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Biden introduced increasing funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program

COPS Improvements Act of 2007 - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make grants for public safety and community policing programs (COPS ON THE BEAT or COPS program). Revises grant purposes to provide for:

  1. the hiring or training of law enforcement officers for intelligence, antiterror, and homeland security duties;
  2. the hiring of school resource officers;
  3. school-based partnerships between local law enforcement agencies and local school systems to combat crime, gangs, drug activities, and other problems facing elementary and secondary schools;
  4. innovative programs to reduce and prevent illegal drug (including methamphetamine) manufacturing, distribution, and use; and
  5. enhanced community policing and crime prevention grants that meet emerging law enforcement needs.
    Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to:
  1. assign community prosecutors to handle cases from specific geographic areas and address counterterrorism problems, specific violent crime problems, and localized violent and other crime problems; and
  2. develop new technologies to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in crime prevention.
Source: COPS Improvements Act (S.368/H.R.1700) 07-S368 on Jan 23, 2007

Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance.

Biden introduced reducing recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance

Legislative Outcome: Became Public Law No: 110-199.
Source: Second Chance Act (S.1060/H.R.1593) 08-S1060 on Mar 29, 2007

Establish an FBI registry of sexual offendors.

Biden co-sponsored the Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.3456. Became Public Law No: 104-236.
Source: Bill sponsored by 15 Senators and 3 Reps 96-S1675 on Apr 16, 1996

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Page last updated: Sep 12, 2012