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5 Noteworthy Quotes About 1994 Crime Bill: What's Being Said About It Now

By    |   Tuesday, 26 May 2015 04:55 PM

The 1994 Crime Bill, formally the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, was signed by President Clinton in an attempt to reduce the high violent crime rates the US experienced that year.

President Clinton was optimistic about the bill’s future impact, even relaying to The New York Times that it was the “toughest, smartest crime bill in the history of the United States.”

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President Clinton’s initial optimism about the bill’s impact is a far cry from views of the bill today. Below are five of the most noteworthy quotes explaining the bill’s legacy today:

1. “The problem is the way it was written and implemented, we have too wide a net.” - Former President Bill Clinton told CNN that the bill was not as successful as he had hoped. Clinton admitted that the bill did not provide enough funding for rehabilitation efforts after incarceration.

2. “If we shorten prison terms, could we take those savings and, for example, restore the prison education programs that practically eliminate recidivism? How can we reduce the number of prisoners while still keeping down crime?” - In his forward for the Brennan Center for Justice’s report, Clinton preached the opposite of what he implemented in 1994, showing his shifting beliefs along with the shifting political climate regarding incarceration rates.

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3. “The results – not only at the federal level but at the state level – have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board and now we have to address that.” - Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, conceded to the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum in 2007 that her husband’s bill has been problematic for the US prison system.

4. "Here's the federal government coming in and saying we'll give you money if you punish people more severely, and 28 states and the District of Columbia followed the money and enacted stricter sentencing laws for violent offenses.” - Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and attendee of the Crime Bill’s signing ceremony, lamented to NPR in 2014 that the bill overlooked many outcomes of tougher crime laws and increased incarceration rates. Travis acknowledges that the bill made “some terrible mistakes.”

5. "What they left out was the fact that every time they put midnight basketball in a neighborhood, the crime rate plummeted. You saved more money than you spent on the midnight basketball. They left that part out." - Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) voted against the bill in 1994 because it did not do enough to actually prevent crime. In an NPR interview Rep. Scott brought up the Midnight Basketball program, for which the final version of the bill provided little funding despite his belief that social programs were more likely to prevent crime than mass incarceration.

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The 1994 Crime Bill, formally the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, was signed by President Clinton in an attempt to reduce the high violent crime rates the US experienced that year.
1994 crime bill, noteworthy quotes
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2015-55-26
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 04:55 PM
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