Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey an African American Democrat had this to say about the 1994 federal crime bill: “There are people right now in prison for life for drug offenses,” Booker said, “because you stood up and used that tough-on-crime phony rhetoric that got a lot of people elected but destroyed communities like mine.” (The Atlantic) The NAACP called the 1994 Crime Bill “a crime against the American people.” (The Atlantic)
Minority Whip Durbin the second most powerful Democrat championed the passage of the 1994 Crime Bill (Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act). Sen. Durbin’s vote for the 1994 Crime Bill destroyed families and communities. Policy and votes have consequences, the effects of the 1994 Crime Bill are still being felt today. An extraordinary percentage of African American men in the United States are legally barred from voting today because of a felony conviction. They are subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public benefits.
For 37 years Senator Dick Durbin has been concerned about feathering his own nest and promoting policy that perpetuates systemic racism. Let’s examine Sen. Durbin’s record on criminal justice.
Senator Dick Durbin and His Record on Criminal Justice
- In 1986, Senator Durbin was an original sponsor of H.R. 5484, The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The Bill established a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing. Senator Durbin voted yes on the Bill. (Congress.Gov)
- Senator Dick Durbin voted for the 1994 Crime Bill that exacerbated the prison population. 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S.—a 500 percent increase over the last 40 years (The Sentencing Project);
- The Crime Bill instituted three strikes and you are out provision that increased the number of people serving life sentences; (The Sentencing Project)
- The Crime Bill provided $12.5 billion for states to build more prisons, and jails (Brennan Center for Justice);
- Between 1980 and 2017, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 750 percent, rising from a total of 26,378 in 1980 to 225,060 in 2017 (The Sentencing Project);
- Today, people of color make up 37 percent of the U.S. Population but 67 percent of the prison population (The Sentencing Project)
- The $30.2 billion Crime Bill helped the private prison industry (Baltimore Sun);