Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday unveiled a plan aimed at overhauling the criminal justice system in the U.S., seeking to take on an issue his 2020 Democratic presidential rivals have worked to use against him during the campaign.
As part of the plan, Mr. Biden would work to pass legislation to end mandatory minimum sentences at the federal level. His plan also includes a $20 billion grant program to incentivize states to craft their own policies, like eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes. He would also end the disparity in sentencing for convictions tied to crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, which were included in a 1986 law he had championed.
Some of Mr. Biden’s rivals have criticized him for his prominent role in helping pass the bill, arguing that its major provisions have helped contribute to the mass incarceration of individuals, notably people of color, in recent decades.
Mr. Biden would also decriminalize the use of marijuana, expunge prior marijuana-related convictions and end “all incarceration for drug use alone.”
He would also work to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, end cash bail and cut off the federal government’s use of private prisons.
The plan also entails a $1 billion-per-year investment in juvenile justice reform efforts.
Mr. Biden would also use the Justice Department to root out “unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” building on efforts on that front during the Obama administration his campaign says were curtailed under President Trump.
He would also create a new task force outside of the Justice Department to examine prosecution decisions, expand resources for public defenders, and expand access to housing, treatment and job opportunities for people formerly behind bars.
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