In his long career as Senator, Joe Biden has been a leading advocate on tough-on-crime policies. It was a feature of his early politics to push for harsher sentencing and more stringent anti-drug legislation. In 1977, he pushed for mandatory minimum sentences, and in 1986, he helped to draft the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which increased drug sentences and introduced the vast disparity between crack and powder cocaine minimum sentencing. A 1988 act of the same name also increased drug punishments. In 1994, Biden co-authored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which authorised the biggest expansion of the federal death penalty, and led to the construction of new prisons which contributed to the mass incarceration crisis. Despite his election pledges, Biden historically played a significant role in the mass incarceration and drug abuse crises facing the US criminal justice system. He cannot be trusted to deliver on this issue and solve the problems he helped to create.
Joe Biden has learned from the mistakes he made in the past, and is now offering a series of criminal justice reforms that will address problems created by legislation he supported. He called his historic tough-on-crime approach a "big mistake" - it is important that voters judge him on his more recent record and election pledges. For more on the reforms Biden will implement, see the argument 'Joe Biden will reform the police force and criminal justice system'. Trump also has adopted a tough-on-crime approach to criminal justice, and so Biden's poor track record on the issue does not mean Trump would be better for the US criminal justice system. For more on this, see the position 'Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be as good as each other for criminal justice'.