Trust Index: Fact-checking Biden on controversial 1994 crime bill

Biden claims ‘every Black mayor supported it’

Trust Index: Fact-checking Biden on controversial 1994 crime bill
Trust Index: Fact-checking Biden on controversial 1994 crime bill

One of the major issues for Joe Biden during his campaign has been his support of the 1994 crime bill which has been widely criticized as racist.

Here’s what he said about that during Thursday night’s Town Hall on ABC.

“The Black caucus voted for it and every Black mayor supported it across the board,” Biden said.

The Trust Index team is labeling this one “be careful,” for a few reasons.

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

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For starters, it’s impossible to know whether every Black mayor in the country at the time supported the bill, although it did have support from some prominent black mayors including the mayor of Baltimore.

As for the Congressional Black Caucus, a majority of the caucus did vote for the bill but not every member. The bill was also opposed by the NAACP at the time.

Biden also made some claims about what happened after the bill passed, we tested them together.

“What happened violent actually went down precipitously, remember the rise in violent crime in the late 80s early 90s? Violent crime went down and fewer African Americans were arrested,” Biden said.

We’re also calling this one be careful, because it needs unpacking.

Biden is talking about community policing here and the results of the 94 crime bill. According to a Government Accountability Office report violent crime from 1994 to 2000 only fell about 2.5 percent. Not exactly precipitously.

Biden is likely drawing on the controlled numbers in that same study which said adjusted for community differences the bill with funding for community patrols accounted for 7 percent of the fall in violent crime, but still far from precipitous. He is right however that African American arrests dropped after the bill passed, despite it largely being credited with continuing the trend of mass incarceration of minority Americans.

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