Bernie Sanders said in 1994 that he agreed the country needed “some more jails” and that it must be “tougher in certain instances” on crime.The then-congressman from Vermont made the comments during a news conference in which he explained his support for the now-controversial 1994 crime bill. His remarks, video of which was obtained by CNN’s KFile from CCTV-Center for Media & Democracy, a Vermont public access station, sheds light on Sanders’ support of the now more controversial elements of the bill, and his reservations about other aspects. Sanders more recently has described the bill as “terrible” and says he is sorry he voted for it, but his view at the time was that although the bill “isn’t perfect,” he viewed it as “a major step forward in controlling and preventing crime.””If you look at the issue of prevention versus punishment, if you like, I would’ve put more effort on prevention,” said Sanders in 1994. “If you keep kids in school, if you get jobs for young people, in the long run, not only do you prevent crime, but you save the taxpayers substantial sums of money,” Sanders said, “Would I rather invest in education and keeping kids in school and making college opportunity a realistic goal for millions of young people rather than necessarily building one more jail. Yeah. I think I would have gone the other way.””On the other hand, do I think we need some more jails? Yup. Do I think we have to get tougher in certain instances? Yes, I do,” Sanders said. “So what you have is a balance here. You have more money going to law enforcement, more money going into jails. You have, on the other hand, significant sums of money going into prevention, beginning to allow us to deal with violence against women, child abuse and other very serious problems,” Sanders said.
This video must be doctored. Everyone knows this bill was enacted by Representative Hillary Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton before being signed into law by President Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t a broadly supported bill that passed the House on a voice vote and the Senate 95-4 or something.
Seriously, there were real, serious intraparty fights in which the Clintons were on the wrong side during this area, most notably the awful welfare reform bill. But the crime bill wasn’t one of them, and the revisionist history of 2016 where this all was made to hang on Hillary Clinton as opposed to the candidate who had actually voted for the bill was frankly ridiculous. And, by the same token, the vote shouldn’t meaningfully count against Bernie now either. If you’re interested in the politics in crime of the era, and how measures that were in retrospect counterproductive attracted support from all wings of the Democratic Party, you really need to read Locking Up Our Own.