Joe Biden (D), during a Friday appearance on the Breakfast Club radio program, suggested that people in jail have a few things in common, one of which is they “can’t read.”
The Democrat Party’s presumptive nominee made the remarks during a conversation defending his support of anti-crime bills in the 1990s, which critics say led to increased incarceration of black Americans, particularly due to heavier prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses.
Video via the Breakfast Club:
“You take a look at my record. People talk about the crime bill. [The] crime bill didn’t increase mass incarceration. Other things increased mass incarceration,” Biden said, adding that the effort “did, in fact, bring down violent crime in black communities as well.”
Biden said he, along with “my colleagues in a black caucus in the United States Congress,” has been fighting to change the “entire prison system for one that is punishment to rehabilitation” before explaining the three things he believes incarcerated individuals have in common.
“There’s only a couple things everybody has in common in jail,” Biden began. “One is they were the victims of abuse, or their kids were, or their or the mother was. Number two, can’t read,” he stated, offering no elaboration.
“Number three, they don’t have any job skills. They were in a position where they didn’t get a chance,” Biden continued.
“Why does it not make sense to have African-Americans who [are] getting out of prison who serve their time –- everybody for that matter — be able to have public housing?” Biden asked.
Below is a transcript of Biden’s headline-making remarks:
BIDEN: Change the entire prison system from one that is punishment to rehabilitation. There’s only a couple things everybody has in common in jail. One is they were the victims of abuse or they’re kids — or their mother was. Number two, can’t read. Number three, they don’t have any job skills. They were in a position where they didn’t get a chance. Why does it make sense — why did I come along and write the first act that said: when you get out of prison, you don’t just get a [inaudible — “dosha”?] where you get 25 bucks and a bus ticket. You end up under the bridge. You end up under the bridge and just to the same place. So every single solitary person being released from prison should have access to every single government program. Why does it not make sense to have African-Americans who’re getting out of prison [cough] serve their time? Everybody, for that matter, be able to have public housing. Why doesn’t it make sense that they can have Pell grants to go to school? Why doesn’t it make sense that they can have access to health care. What are we, nuts? ‘Cause that’s what we keep doing?
CAMPAIGN STAFFER: So sorry, that’s our time, there.
BIDEN: No, I’m sorry. I know Jill has to use this, but I want — I’ve talked too much. I apologize.
Biden has come under fire for additional controversial remarks made during his Friday appearance with the Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God.
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden said.