Joe Biden pushed back today on Cory Booker’s criticism of a 1994 crime bill that accelerated mass incarceration on minority offenders, saying that Booker should be held accountable for Newark’s stop-and-frisk policy initiated when he was mayor.
“If you look at the mayor’s record in Newark … one of the provisions I wrote in the crime bill, patterns and practice of misbehavior, his police department was stopping and frisking people, mostly African American men,” Biden said during a press availability following a campaign event in Michigan. “We took action against him – the Justice Department took action against him – held the police department accountable.”
Biden said that Booker “objected to federal interference.”
If he wants to go back and talk about records, I’m happy to do that, but I’d rather talk about the future,” Biden said. “I challenge him or anyone else to tell me how he has a better plan than I have.”
Booker criticized Biden’s new criminal justice plan on Tuesday, saying that the crime bill Biden wrote “ accelerated mass incarceration and inflicted immeasurable harm on Black, Brown, and low-income communities.”
“Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right,” Booker said. “The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it.”
Biden disputed Booker’s attack.
“Cory knows that’s not true,” the former vice president said.
In 2014, the Justice Department called for federal monitoring of the Newark Police Department after finding that police failed to provide an acceptable constitutional reason for nearly 75% of the pedestrian stops they made.
While Booker was mayor, Newark homicides dropped to historic lows.
The Biden campaign went even further today, saying that Booker “has some hard questions to answer about his role in the criminal justice system.”
“At his inauguration as Mayor in 2006, Booker promised a zero tolerance policy for minor infractions, which is exactly the kind of policy that enmeshed many undeserving people in the criminal justice system that cast a huge shadow over their subsequent lives,” said Kate Beningfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “In 2006, as Joe Biden was working to eliminate crack cocaine-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, Booker was running a police department that was such a civil rights nightmare that the U.S. Department of Justice intervened.”
This story was updated at 4:36 PM with comment from the Biden campaign.