In a 1976 speech in Idaho, then-Sen. Joe Biden said the U.S. criminal justice system should stress punishment rather than rehabilitation — a direct contradiction to his current platform, which focuses on rehabilitation, according to a report.
“Why should we liberals, why should we Democrats, apologize for saying a criminal justice system has implicit in it the idea that a crime should be met with a punishment? What is wrong with that?” the senator from Delaware said at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Boise, Idaho, in audio reportedly obtained by the Washington Examiner.
“Why should we liberals, why should we Democrats, apologize for saying a criminal justice system has implicit in it the idea that a crime should be met with a punishment? What is wrong with that?”
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In the speech, Biden also said that liberals claim convicts need to be rehabilitated but there’s a recognition that “We have not found a way to rehabilitate.”
He added if Democrats didn’t get tougher on criminals voters would start to support politicians like Alabama segregationist George Wallace, who was strict on crime.
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“When we don’t respond,” he said, according to the Examiner, “we allow men like [Wallace] to run around the nation talking about ‘pointy-headed federal judges’ and about the fact that we need more severe penalties in the government for crime, and people begin to believe him.”
Biden also said that diversity strengthening America is “poppycock,” adding that people “fear differences.”
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Biden has faced scrutiny from his 2020 presidential rivals over his support for the 1994 crime bill and other past positions over his decades-long career.