Tonight’s State of the Union address by President Joe Biden was devoid of any mention of the reforms in criminal justice that Biden promised during his campaign.
While the White House Press Office published voluminous fact sheets throughout the day praising the Biden Administration’s achievements in improving U.S. infrastructure and fighting gun crime as well as its plans to reduce inflation, neither Biden nor the White House had anything to say regarding the broad criminal justice reforms. PlatformHe ran on.
Biden made the only mention of police reforms during his speech. That’s why, the Justice Department demanded body cameras, ban chokeholds and limited no-knock warrants to its officers.
Biden’s platform for campaign included eliminating the federal death penalty and placing all federal prisoners in solitary confinement. It also decriminalized marijuana and using clemency as a way to release federal prisoners serving sentences on nonviolent drug and other crimes. Many of the promises made by Biden have not been kept more than a year after his election. It is frustratingCriminal justice reform advocates.
These issues were not prominently covered, so it’s not surprising. Both Kamala Harris and Vice President Biden were reluctantly pulled by the party to the right on criminal justice issues. Rising murder rates has made it difficult for many Democrats to support any “defund police” rhetoric. Biden called for more police officers on the streets, and it was one of his bipartisan applause lines. “FUND the police with all the resources and training that they need in order to protect our neighborhoods. That is the answer. However, the Administration’s efforts to overlook some of the tangible reforms promised by it is not indicative of bravery.
The Biden campaign promised to “broadly use [the] clemency power for certain non-violent and drug crimes,” but the White House has Avoidable and obfuscatedIf pressed for details, they would not answer. To exercise their clemency power, many presidents hold off until their last years in office. Obama’s massive clemency program didn’t start until that point. In the meantime, though, there are still federal inmates serving sentences in understaffed, dangerous prisons for nonviolent drug offenses—something that Biden supposedly thinks is an outrage.
Biden Federal executions stoppedThe Justice Department reviewed its death penalty protocols last July. The review continues, however, with the moratorium in effect.
The federal criminal justice system is not being properly managed in other areas. The January ReportAccording to the Brennan Center for Justice, the U.S. The U.S. Sentencencing Commission is responsible for setting federal guidelines and has been without quorum since 2019. This was due to vacancies in its roster.
Biden had a platform that “ensures humane prison conditions,” which included the end of solitary confinement “with very few exceptions like protecting the life imprisoned persons.” Over 150 organizations sent in a request for assistance last June. joint letterForcing the administration to honor that campaign promise As The Appeal reportedA section from a White House draft executive order that was leaked to the public last fall instructs the Justice Department how it will ensure inmates are housed in the most restrictive settings possible. Other sections, however, are not included in the draft. Outraged police enforcement organizationsThat executive order was signed and no further information has been released since.
The criminal justice advocates won the victory over the Biden Administration in convincing them to change a policy which would have allowed federal prisoners who were being held at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to be sent back to prison. Other wins, however, have proven harder.
Reforms for qualified immunity Congressman died in a slow deathThey were open to any bipartisan bill on policing with them. Finally, the Equal Act was passed. Reduce the disparity between sentencing sentencesBetween crack cocaine and powder cocaine is currently awaiting a vote at the Senate Floor.
The disparity was, of course, created by a bill spearheaded by then–Sen. Joe Biden.