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Will Donald Trump or Joe Biden be better for criminal justice? Show more Show less
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The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. As riots have blazed across the country in response to police brutality, the ways presidential candidates approach criminal justice are increasingly coming under scrutiny. Will Donald Trump or Joe Biden be better for criminal justice?

Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be as good as each other for criminal justice Show more Show less

The current criminal justice system is a product of Republican and Democratic policies. Neither candidate wants to strongly challenge the status quo.
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Joe Biden's record on criminal justice shows his outlook to be like Trump's

Joe Biden pushed for a tough-on-crime approach in the Democratic party and was a leading advocate of anti-drug legislation. Biden's past actions on criminal justice suggest he has much in common with Trump on this issue.

The Argument

In his long career as Senator, Joe Biden advocated 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.[1] 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.[1] Trump also wants to present himself as the candidate who is tough-on-crime and in favour of law and order. Despite signing the First Step Act into law, he has called for harsher sentencing and more aggressive policing.[2] He has also consistently advocated for the expansion of the death penalty. Both candidates have a long history of favouring greater police powers and harsher punishments for crimes. Whilst Biden has proposed a number of reforms in his election campaign, this is because he has been pulled to the left by Bernie Sanders in the primary campaign - his track record is a better guide to his politics than his campaign pledges.

Counter arguments

Joe Biden has learned from his past mistakes on criminal justice reform - his most recent campaign pledges are the best way to determine what measures he will implement if elected. It is important that we allow politicians to learn from their mistakes - we should judge them on their recent record and plans for the future and should not get fixated on actions from decades ago.



Rejecting the premises




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This page was last edited on Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 13:19 UTC

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