Politics

Here’s Hillary Clinton In 1994 Talking Up Tough-On-Crime Legislation

“There will be more police on the street, a hundred thousand more police officers, with flexibility given to local communities to determine how best to use them.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for ending “the era of mass incarceration.” Clinton’s remarks, as noted by many in the media, specifically reject the “tough-on-crime” mantra and legislation advocated by her husband during his time as president.

The shift in rhetoric and policy around criminal justice issues has been significant over the last two decades. In fact, 21 years ago, Hillary Clinton as first lady spoke to a conference for female police officers where he pushed her husband’s agenda in New York.

At the time, Clinton said the 1994 crime bill — which called for 100,000 more police officers, more prisons, and harsher sentencing for crimes, and enacted stricter gun laws — would “make a difference in your lives as police officers and in the lives of the communities you serve.”

“We will be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat, violent, criminal offenders — three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back in through the revolving door,” remarked the then-first lady.

Clinton also noted that the crime bill would help build more prisons.

“We will also finally understand that fighting crime is not just a question of punishment, although there are many dollars in the crime bill to build more prisons,” she said. “It is also a question of prevention. We want to give police officers the tools to help young people stay out of trouble. We want to begin to give young people something to say yes to, not just to have to face the bleak, alienated streets that too often push them in the wrong direction.”

On Wednesday, Clinton talked about how the United States “almost 25% of the world’s prison population,” called for police to be equipped with body cameras, and discussed the issues of substance abuse and mental health. The remarks come as during protests and riots in Baltimore after the death of 25-year-old black man who died from injuries received while in police custody.

Speaking to C-SPAN in 1994, Clinton called the crime bill “both smart and tough.”

“I think as more Americans focus on the fact that this bill would have put more police on the street, would have locked up violent offenders so they could never get out a again,” she said. “Would have given more prison construction money available to the states as well as the federal government. But also would have dealt with prevention, giving young people something to say yes to. It’s a very well thought out crime bill that is both smart and tough. ”

Here are the full 1994 remarks on the crime bill specifics:

The sad truth is that, unfortunately, there are those who would rather talk about fighting crime than actually give you the tools that you can use to fight crime. And what we have to do, those of us in civilian life, is to stand up and support those of you who are on the front line. Because this crime bill will make a difference in your lives as police officers and in the lives of the communities you serve.

There will be more police on the street, a hundred thousand more police officers, with flexibility given to local communities to determine how best to use them. We will be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat, violent, criminal offenders — three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back in through the revolving door.

We will also finally understand that fighting crime is not just a question of punishment, although there are many dollars in the crime bill to build more prisons. It is also a question of prevention. We want to give police officers the tools to help young people stay out of trouble. We want to begin to give young people something to say yes to, not just to have to face the bleak, alienated streets that too often push them in the wrong direction.

And also in this crime bill is something that goes along with the domestic violence initiative. For the first time, there is a special section that focuses on violence against women. And understand that there are special problems that go along with domestic violence and other crimes committed against women.

So all in all, this crime bill tries to take a bottoms-up approach, because it is built on the experience of people who have actually been there, people like yourselves.

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Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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