Biden: The War on Drugs Candidate

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If Vice President Joe Biden chose to run, he would’ve face a legacy of swelling the U.S. prison population as well as in Latin America

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Story Transcript

CAPTION: Joe Biden will soon announce whether or not he’s running for president. Here’s a look at his role in the war on drugs.

His ascension to chair of the Judiciary Committee began and sealed his legacy as one of expanding the war on drugs.

JOE BIDEN: There are 60 new death penalties. Brand new. Sixty. There are 70 additional enhancements of penalties, i.e., you go to jail longer. $1 billion, $300 million more for law enforcement than when it left here. And it has an additional $3 billion, $200 million more prisons.

CAPTION: He co-sponsored the 1984 law that extended civil asset forfeiture from charged individuals to suspected individuals.

Many say the practice became a way of policing for profit.

Biden also pushed the sweeping 1994 Violent Crime Control Act, which swelled prisons through harsher sentencing.

NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: We now know 20 years later that it wasn’t the correct response, that it helped to fuel this issue of mass incarceration that we’re now dealing with.

CAPTION: His “tough-on-crime” approach also defined his foreign policy.

He signed NAFTA the same year as the crime bill, which critics say fueled the U.S.-led war on drugs in Mexico.

JOE BIDEN: We renewed our commitment to the Andean region, providing funding for [plan] Colombia, as well as for alternative development of law enforcement efforts in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil.

CAPTION: Biden also prioritized drug enforcement as a prerequisite for foreign aid.

JOE BIDEN: For better or for worse, until recently the United States has stayed out of Colombia’s insurgency war. But with the new authority given to Colombia to use equipment provided by the United States for counterinsurgency purposes, we have entered new territory here.

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