Flashback 1994: Clinton Signs Crime Bill, Mass Incarceration of Black Men Follows

On Wednesday Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for an end to mass incarceration on the heels of the social unrest caused by a string of law enforcement involved deaths of African-American males across the country.

However, over 20 years ago in 1994, her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, signed a sweeping crime bill to build federal prisons, which for the first time imprisoned Americans based on the three strike law, causing today’s mass incarceration with more than 2 million Americas in prison.

As a result, America now has 25 percent of the world’s prison population, but only 5 percent of its overall population. An African-American male born today has a 1-in-3 chance of spending time in prison during their lifetime.

At the historic signing ceremony, Clinton said, “Gangs and drugs have taken over our streets and undermined our schools. Every day, we read about somebody else who has literally gotten away with murder.”

The crime bill caused an immediate and steep increase during Clinton’s tenure. At the beginning of his first term in 1992, there were 847,000 people in prison. By the end of Clinton’s second term in 2000, there were 1,334,000 Americans behind bars.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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