Hillary Clinton on Crime

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY); 2016 Democratic nominee


End profit motivation to filling prison cells

It's just a fact that if you're a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. So we've got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little. We need to have more second chance programs.

I'm glad that we're ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn't have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans. So there are some positive ways we can work on this.

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate at Hofstra University , Sep 26, 2016

Agrees with Rand Paul on reforms for crime & drugs

Where do Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton agree on the issues? Our VoteMatch theory says that a liberal and a libertarian should agree on social and domestic issues and but disagree on economic issues. Rand and Hillary do agree on some social issues; although Rand leans conservative on several social issues to maintain his other Republican constituencies. They agree on:
Source: Rand Paul vs. Hillary Clinton On The Issues, by Jesse Gordon , Apr 16, 2016

Crime bill was about outrage, but parts were mistakes

Q: You call for an end to the era of mass incarceration, but a lot of folks in the black community blame the 1994 Crime Bill, a bill you supported that locked up a generation of black men. Why should black people trust you to get it right this time?

CLINTON: Sen. Sanders voted for that bill; we both supported it. And, I think it's fair to say we did because back then there was an outcry over the rising crime rate, and people from all communities were asking that action be taken. Now, my husband said at the NAACP last summer that it solved some problems, but it created other problems, and I agree. And, one of those problems was, unfortunately, a move to expand the reasons why people would be incarcerated. And, that's why the very first speech that I gave in this campaign was about criminal justice reform, and ending the era of mass incarceration because I believe absolutely that too many families were broken up, too many communities were adversely affected. So, we've got to do a bunch of things.

Source: 2016 Democratic primary debate in Flint, Michigan , Mar 6, 2016

Death penalty appropriate for Oklahoma City bombing

Q: You said that capital punishment has a place in a very few federal cases, but you also said you would breathe a sigh of relief if the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty nationwide.

CLINTON: What I hope the Supreme Court will do is make it absolutely clear that any state that continues capital punishment must meet the highest standards of evidentiary proof of effective assistance of counsel. I have much more confidence in the federal system, and I do reserve it for particularly heinous crimes in the federal system, like terrorism. I thought it was appropriate after a very thorough trial that Timothy McVeigh received the death penalty for blowing up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children in a daycare center.

SANDERS: When somebody commits any of these terrible crimes [like in Oklahoma City], you lock them up, and you toss away the key. They're never going to get out. But, I just don't want to see government be part of killing.

Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

Where do Bill and Hillary disagree on social issues?

Where Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton agree on Social / domestic issues
  • Both pro-death penalty
  • Both strongly pro-choice
  • Both strongly pro-affirmative action
  • Both strongly pro-ObamaCare
  • Both strongly pro-environment
  • Both strongly pro-gun control
  • Both strongly pro-voting rights
Where they disagree:Bill ClintonHillary Clinton
Three Strikes: Tough on crimeLimit mandatory sentencing
Gay marriage: Supports some gay rights Strongly supports
School prayer: No official school prayerNo religious instruction
School choice : Supports charters for allNo private nor parochial choice
Legalize marijuana : Keep war on drugsOpen to legalization
Source: Analysis: Bill Clinton vs. Hillary Clinton on the Issues , Jan 1, 2015

Longtime advocate of death penalty, with restrictions

Clinton has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty. Clinton cosponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 which became law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The bill provides funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishes a DNA testing process for individuals sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. As first lady, she lobbied for President Clinton’s crime bill, which expanded the list of crimes subject to the federal death penalty.
Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Politics 2008 , Jan 1, 2008

Address the unacceptable increase in incarceration

Q: Some people say your husband’s 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. It’s hard to remember now but the crime rate in the early 1990s was very high. But we’ve got to take stock now of the consequences, so that’s 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

Mandatory sentences have been too widely used

    We have to do all of these things:
  1. We do have to go after racial profiling. I’ve supported legislation to try to tackle that.
  2. We have to go after mandatory minimums. You know, mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes may be appropriate, but it has been too widely used. And it is using now a discriminatory impact.
  3. We need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Police & firemen refused to shake her hand at Ground Zero

It was likely no surprise to Hillary that there is bad blood between her and police, fire fighters, and other first responders. Still, the depth of their disdain had to have come as a shock when police and firemen refused to shake her hand at the ruins of the World Trade Center.
Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 63 , Feb 25, 2004

2001: police & firemen refused her handshake at Ground Zero

Many of Hillary's problems with police and fire personnel are her own fault, due to the arms-length relationship she displayed toward law enforcement before 9/11. In terms of statistics, the NYC police department in the days of Rudy Giuliani had an exemplary record of keeping guns in holsters (compared to other large municipal police departments). In terms of public standing, every man and woman in blue felt heat over the shooting of Amadou Diallo, the West African immigrant who was mistakenly shot by NYC police officers when he reached for his wallet. Rudy stood by New York's finest. Hillary headed for the tall grass. "She turned down escorts by uniformed police," says a former New York law enforcement official. "Why?"

It was likely no surprise to Hillary that there is bad blood between her and the police, fire and other "first responders." Still, the depth of their disdain had to have come as a shock when police and firemen refused to shake her hand at the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrrell, p. 63 , Feb 25, 2004

2000: NYPD needs higher pay and better minority relations

A March 2000 fatal police shooting in NYC of a black man named Patrick Dorismond underscored the Mayor's political vulnerabilities. Giuliani's handling of this tragic case inflamed old hostilities between his office and the city's minority populations. Police officers, in turn, were legitimately frustrated that they were being misunderstood while trying to do their jobs effectively because of a city leadership at war with the communities they were trying to protect. When Giuliani released Dorismond's sealed juvenile records, casting aspersions on a man who was dead, he merely drove the wedge deeper.

The more Giuliani continued with his divisive rhetoric, the more determined I was to offer a different approach. I laid out a plan for improving relations between the police & minorities, including better recruitment, training and compensation for the NYPD. Giuliani's handling of the Dorismond case was wrong. Instead of easing the tensions and uniting the city, he had poured salt into the wound.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.514 , Nov 1, 2003

Led early crusade for rape evidence and crisis centers

[In her early career in Arkansas, Hillary] made headlines by urging that a coalition of women and prosecuting attorneys push for state legislation requiring that judges rule on the admissibility of evidence of rape victims’ previous sexual conduct before it was presented to the jury. Despite her efforts the bill died in committee. She started Fayetteville’s first rape crisis center and made an effort to educate the local population about sexual violence against women.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 91 , Aug 1, 1999

Supports citizen patrols & 3-Strikes-You’re-Out

The first step is to take weapons off the streets and to put more police on them. 25,000 new police officers are being trained, with the goal of adding 75,000 more by the end of the decade. Taking a cue from what’s worked in the past, cities are deploying officers differently, getting them out from behind desks and putting them back on the sidewalks, where they can get to know the people who live and work on the streets they patrol. They will be doing what is called “community policing.”

The other half of community policing, of course, is the community’s role. Citizens have to be active participants in crime prevention. In Houston, nearly a thousand new officers added to the city’s police force since 1991 have been joined by thousands of citizen patrollers observing and reporting suspicious or criminal behavior in an anticrime campaign.

Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.126-127 , Sep 25, 1996

Supports “Three Strikes” and more prison

There is something wrong when a crime bill takes six years to work its way through Congress and the average criminal serves only four.

We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.

Source: Unique Voice, p.189-90: Remarks at Annual Women in Policing , Aug 10, 1994

Hillary Clinton on Racial Justice

Stop-and-frisk is ineffective as well as unconstitutional

TRUMP: When you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, you have to have stop-and-frisk. We need law and order in the inner cities, because the people that are most affected by what's happening are African-American and Hispanic people.

CLINTON: I've heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it's really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country.


CLINTON: You know, the vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids. There's a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up. But we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional and, in part, because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate at Hofstra University , Sep 26, 2016

Race still determines too much, especially in justice system

Q: How do you heal the racial divide?

A: Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get, and, yes, it determines how they're treated in the criminal justice system. We've just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa & Charlotte. We've got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they're well prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law. Right now, that's not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods. So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I've laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate at Hofstra University , Sep 26, 2016

Address systemic racism in our criminal justice system

Q: This community suffered heartache from the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back while running from police. Many African American men fear that their lives are cheap--is that perception or reality?

CLINTON: Sadly it's reality, and it has been heartbreaking, & incredibly outraging to see the constant stories of young men, like Walter Scott, who have been killed by police officers. Their needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. That requires a very clear agenda for retraining police officers, looking at ways to end racial profiling, finding more ways to really bring the disparities that stalk our country into high relief. One out of three African American men may well end up going to prison. What we would be doing if it was one out of three white men? Often, the black men are arrested, convicted and incarcerated for offenses that do not lead to the same results for white men. So, we have a very serious problem that we can no longer ignore.

Source: 2016 NBC Democratic debate , Jan 17, 2016

Rebuild trust between communities and police

We have systemic racism and in particular, in our justice system that must be addressed. We have to reform our criminal justice system and we have to find ways to bring law enforcement together with the communities they are sworn to protect. Trust has been totally lost in a lot of places. We need to get a bipartisan commitment to work on this. We need to hear the voices of those who feel like strangers in their own country, so that we can begin to rebuild trust.
Source: 2015 ABC/WMUR Democratic primary debate in N.H. , Dec 19, 2015

Get body cameras on police; tackle mass incarceration

What we need to be doing is not only reforming criminal justice--I have talked about that, including things like body cameras, but we need to be following the recommendations of the commissioner that President Obama empanelled on policing. Similarly, we need to tackle mass incarceration. We actually have people on both sides of the aisle who have reached the same conclusion, that we can not keep imprisoning more people than anybody else in the world.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Black lives matter: inequality is not inevitable

[What can we say] about the cruel reality that African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms? Or that 1/3 of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes, with devastating consequences for their families & communities?

We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance, and I hope that the tragedies of the last year give us the opportunity to come together as a nation to find our balance again. We can stand up together and say: Yes, black lives matter. Yes, the government should serve and protect all of our people. Yes, our country is strongest when everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream. Inequality is not inevitable. Some of the social disparities we see today may stem from the legacy of segregation & discrimination. But we do not have to perpetuate them, and we do not have to give into them. The choices we make matter. Policies matter. Values matter.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 26 , Apr 28, 2015

Tap into churches to avoid more Louima & Diallo cases

I would like to add my voice and influence to those who are attempting to bridge the divide between police officers, who have a difficult and dangerous job of fighting crime, and the people in the neighborhoods who feel they are treated unfairly and disrepectfully.
The Louima and Diallo cases were not just horrific, but symptomatic of problems in the city’s overall approach to policing. The real challenge is to to adjust the approach-change the climate so that policing is both effective and respectful. There is also a need to for the police to engage the law-abiding members of the community,thus making them a part of the overall plan. In so many communities, no institution has more influence than the neighborhood church, mosque, or synagogue. We must tap into this potential in New York.
Source: New York Times, A29 on 2000 election , Mar 9, 2000

Hillary Clinton on Voting Record

Pushed to expand AMBER alerts & for stricter sex penalties

Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic increase in media stories of abducted & abused children. Where there has not been an increase in the overall numbers of such cases, many families, and children, are more fearful. I have pushed for legislation that would appoint a national coordinator for AMBER alerts, and alert system for missing children; provide additional protections for children, and establish stricter punishments for sex offenders. That legislation passed the Congress in 2003
Source: 2006 intro to It Takes A Village, by H. Clinton, p.303 , Dec 12, 2006

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

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Clinton 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

Require DNA testing for all federal executions.

Clinton co-sponsored the Innocence Protection Act:

Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.

    Summary: Authorizes a person convicted of a Federal crime to apply for DNA testing to support a claim that the person did not commit:

  1. the Federal crime of which the person was convicted; or

  2. any other offense that a sentencing authority may have relied upon when it sentenced the person with respect to such crime.

  3. Prohibits a State from denying an application for DNA testing made by a prisoner in State custody who is under sentence of death if specified conditions apply.

  4. Provides grants to prosecutors for DNA testing programs.

  5. Establishes the National Commission on Capital Representation.

  6. Withholds funds from States not complying with standards for capital representation.

  7. Provides for capital defense incentive grants and resource grants.

  8. Increases compensation in Federal cases, and sets forth provisions regarding compensation in State cases, where an individual is unjustly sentenced to death.

  9. Adds a certification requirement in Federal death penalty prosecutions.

  10. Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR912 on Mar 7, 2001

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Clinton co-sponsored 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.

Clinton co-sponsored 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

Other candidates on Crime: Hillary Clinton on other issues:
Former Presidents/Veeps:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
V.P.Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
V.P.Al Gore
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
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Page last updated: Jan 01, 2022