Hillary Clinton in 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum

On Crime: Address the unacceptable increase in incarceration

Q: Some people say your husbandís crime bill is one of the primary factors behind the rising incarceration rate for blacks and Latinos. It earmarked $8 billion dollars for prisons and continued a trend to harsher sentencing. Do you regret how this has affected the black community?

A: I think that the results--not only at the federal level but at the state level--have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board & now we have to address that. At the time, there were reasons why the Congress wanted to push through a certain set of penalties and increase prison construction and there was a lot of support for that across a lot of communities. Itís hard to remember now but the crime rate in the early 1990s was very high. But weíve got to take stock now of the consequences, so thatís why I want to have a thorough review of all of the penalties, of all the kinds of sentencing, and more importantly start having more diversion and having more second chance programs.

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

On Drugs: Reduce sentencing disparity for crack, but not retroactively

Q: The US Sentencing Commission recently limited the disparity in sentencing guidelines for those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine versus crimes involving powder cocaine. Should that change be retroactive?

A: I believe weíve got to decrease the disparity that exists. It is really unconscionable that someone who uses five grams of crack cocaine, compared to 500 grams of powder cocaine would face such disparate sentencing. And itís further compounded because the possession of crack cocaine really is unique in the way that it leads directly to prison for so many people. So I am going to tackle the disparity. I think it definitely needs to be prospective on principle. I have problems with retroactivity. I think that itís something that a lot of communities will be concerned about as well, so letís tackle this disparity, letís take it on. The sentencing commission hasnít come forward yet with its specific recommendation but Iím looking forward to seeing it.

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

On Health Care: Pledges to support $50B for AIDS relief in US and world

Today is World AIDS Day. All of us have committed to supporting $50 billion for global AIDS relief, which I am very excited about. But letís not forget that AIDS now is growing again in our own country, particularly among African American and Latino women. The leading cause of death for African American women between the ages of 25 and 34 is AIDS. So I want to ask all of my fellow candidates here if they would join me, not only in a pledge for what weíre going to do globally to address the AIDS pandemic in Africa and Asia and elsewhere, but will you join me in a pledge that weíre going to do everything we can once again to address the AIDS pandemic right here in the US, and to put the money in that will provide the services and the treatment and the prevention that our own people deserve to have. Because frankly we have turned our backs, we have frozen the amount of money, and I am very worried about what is happening to countless numbers of Americans when it comes to HIV and AIDS.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

On Homeland Security: Examine registering 18-year-old women for selective service

Q: Teenage boys must register for selective service at age 18, but not girls. Iím wondering whether this sends the right message about national service?

DODD: I donít see a need for the draft. I donít believe that is necessary. But if you are going to have one I think it ought to be gender neutral.

Q: If it did not necessarily mean military service, should the country examine registering women at 18?


EDWARDS: Yes. But itís absolutely crucial that we ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war. As with John Kennedyís call to action, I think we need a president who asks Americans to sacrifice.

KUCINICH: We have to say no to a draft.

BIDEN: Yes ,and there should be universal service.

OBAMA: Yes. Every young person should have that opportunity to serve and do something that is bigger than themselves.

RICHARDSON: Yes. And I outlined a plan two years of college tuition paid off by the government, one year of national service

Source: [Xref Obama] 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

On Immigration: Crack down on employers who exploit undocumented workers

Q: Would you help dispel the negative perception of illegal immigrants & undocumented workers that more and more Americans are beginning to have?

A: I deeply regret the way the Republicans are politicizing this issue. They are trying to outdo each other in basically demeaning and attacking those who are here in our country--yes, without documentation--but who are often doing the work that allows raising their families and making a contribution. The answer is comprehensive immigration reform. We have to keep working towards it. Yes, weíve got to have tougher border security. We do have to crack down on employers who exploit and employee undocumented people. Weíve got to do more to help local communities bear the costs of it. Because they donít set immigration laws. Weíve got to do more with our neighbors to the south to help them create more economic opportunity for their own people but at the end of the day there has to be an earned path to legalization.

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

On Principles & Values: Running to continue work Iíve done for 35 years

Iím running for president to continue the work that Iíve done for 35 years. Work that is incredibly important to me; that Iíve seen literally transform lives; from my work with the Childrenís Defense Fund; to chairing the Legal Services Corporation; to fighting for change in Arkansas for better education and health care; to helping to create the State Childrenís Health Insurance Program to insure 6 million children in our country; to working in a bipartisan manner in the Senate to really solve what should be nonpartisan American problems.

We have a lot of work to do. And whoever holds up his or her hand to take the oath of office on January 20th 2009 will have to begin immediately to repair the damage that has been done by the Bush/Cheney administration, but more importantly to restore pride in our country again.

Iím running for president to make it clear that we will make progress together and I hope that I can earn your support.

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

On Welfare & Poverty: Partner with faith based community in empowerment zones

Q: What leadership would you take to ensure that young people and Latino and Black communities not only have access to capital but to ensure that economic development is more inclusive of black and brown youth?

A: In New York City we have seen the transformation of Harlem from a combination of government action creating an empowerment zone, the private sector coming in to take advantage of that and an explosion of entrepreneurial dynamism. Weíve also seen the faith based community like Abyssinians & others that have been partners with it and of course weíve seen a lot of hip hop participants and leaders taking advantage of that. So we need this partnership. We need this partnership between the public and private sector and the not-for-profit and faith-based sector. And we need to make sure that young people have a particular stake in what we are going to present. Thatís what Iíve worked on in NYC and in upstate NY and I intend to put that to work when Iím president.

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

The above quotations are from 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, moderated by NPR, and broadcast on HDNet, from Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 1, 2007.
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