Dan Gilmore / July 22, 2015

Clinton Getting Tough on Criminal Justice Reform

Besides the Monica Lewinsky scandal, what is the lasting legacy of Bill Clinton’s presidency? The Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were swept aside in a sudden shift of American culture; his balanced budget toppled and welfare reform is crumbling. Now, Clinton himself is becoming an advocate for criminal justice reform, turning against the tough-on-crime legislation he signed into law in 1994. At the recent NAACP convention in Philadelphia, Clinton said, “I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it … When I took office, we had had a roaring decade of rising crime. We had gang warfare on the streets. We had little children being shot dead on the streets who were just innocent bystanders standing in the wrong place. … The good news is we had the biggest drop in crime history and the first eight-year decline in crime in history. The bad news is we had a lot of people who were essentially locked up who were minor actors for way too long.” Both liberals and conservatives agree: Clinton’s reforms went too far when it came to mandatory-minimum sentencing and massive incarceration rates, but most certainly the ban on so-called assault weapons. As Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) noted, these tough-on-crime policies bled workers from the American economy and helped break up American families. Still, the issue shows how far the “enlightened” Left has evolved. It is now the party of the progressives like Barack Obama, and Democrats think Bill’s wife is the heir to the movement?

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