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February 29, 2008

Senator Clinton talks a good game on sentencing reform

A helpful reader sent me this link from a Vibe Magazing Q&A with Senator Hillary Clinton. This portion is especially notable in light of Senator Clinton's expressed opposition to crack retroactivity:

VIBE: In your speech, you talked about having first, second, and third chances for children. In the last ten years the rate of incarceration of women has increased exponentially. I don’t think the average person realizes that it’s not 50% or 100%, it’s like 750% in the last thirty years. There are a disproportionate number of African-American men and women who are going to be released from prison with felony convictions. What do we do about that group of people who are effectively disenfranchised when they come out?

CLINTON: Number one, we need to divert more people from the prison system. We have too many people in prison for non-violent drug offenses, which disproportionately impacts on the African-American community. That’s why I’ve been a strong advocate of eliminating the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine [sentencing].

There may have been a reason for it 25 years ago but there isn’t any justification for it now.  But it also means that in the prisons themselves, we’ve got to get back to the services that used to be there. They have mostly been eliminated — GED programs, college credit programs, drug and alcohol abuse programs — I mean, it is like a wasteland.  We put too many people in there and then we basically forget about them. And then when people come out we need a system of second-chance programs. And we need to move to restore people’s rights.  They need to feel like they’ve done whatever time they’re supposed to do and now they are back as a full participant. So we need a network of job-training programs, of housing programs, of civic engagement and education programs.

And there are some good examples around. The Fortune Society in New York does a really good job.  Other places like Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY that hires ex-offenders and trains them. We can do this on a larger scale than what we’re doing now. And a lot of the job training programs we used to have in this country, which has been decimated, need to be brought back so we can, as I have argued, put people to work in green collar jobs. We should be training people; we should be doing that in the prisons.  We should be giving people skills that are going to be part of the economy of the future.

February 29, 2008 at 01:50 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on Sep 14, 2009 9:39:22 AM


They asked her the wrong question or atleast should have asked the follow-up question (after she stated she has been a strong advocate of eliminating the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine) then why does she oppose the retroactive amendment.

Posted by: | Feb 29, 2008 9:50:00 AM

Seems to me she is lying to Black people in order to get their vote... I hope that they have the knowledge of her lack of retroactive support to realize this and call her on it. Too bad the Vibe interviewer didnt know where she really stood.

Posted by: ForAllPeople | Feb 29, 2008 9:54:48 AM

She also changes her accent in an attempt to match that of the audience where she is speaking. How phony can one person be?

Posted by: | Feb 29, 2008 10:12:46 AM

C'mon, Doug ... you know she MEANT to put her money where her mouth is on this issue. She just spent it all on TV ads.

I agree with you that on criminal justice stuff, Obama looks more "reality based" and authentic, less poll-driven than does Hillary, who like her husband has touted draconian drug war policies for most of her political career.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Feb 29, 2008 11:14:12 AM

I hope the people of OH and TX realize how phony she is before Tuesday. Even as a long-time Dem, it's obvious to me.

Posted by: | Feb 29, 2008 11:42:34 AM

Of course, how can anyone trust anything Obama has to say given the obvious difference between what he's telling Ohioans on NAFTA and what his campaign advisors are telling the Canadians? I suspect that in the unlikely event Obama becomes president, crack felons in federal prisons will be low on the priority list, despite his obvious sympathy for criminals.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 29, 2008 12:26:22 PM


as usual you are missing the point and/or distorting it...
We're talking about Hillary not Barack, we're talking about the crack amendment and what HILLARY said and how she lied...
When we start talking about Barack, then chime in... mean while lets stay on point

Posted by: | Feb 29, 2008 12:40:31 PM

Fankly, if another Clinton administration means more legislation similar to the likes of AEDPA, I'll pass.

Posted by: | Feb 29, 2008 1:32:53 PM

It was a response to Grits.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 29, 2008 2:48:37 PM

To 12:40 - You must be new! federalist's fundamental role on these strings is to raise irrelevant tangents then vigorously insist they be confronted. It's sort of his niche. ;)

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 1, 2008 8:52:19 AM

As an attorney who does volunteer work with a prison-literacy program, I'd also like to point out that the "wasteland" in our prisons stems in part from the eliination of Pell grant and other block funding for education under the Clinton adminstration. I agree with others here who have said HRC should have been asked about her opposition to retroactivity. She might have been asked, as well, what proactive steps she planned to press her position that the disparity should be eliminated. Hearings were held on this point yesterday, and it appears that there are many who still want to retain a disparity.

Posted by: VaK | Mar 1, 2008 12:39:53 PM

Grits, you brought up Obama, not me.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 1, 2008 6:13:22 PM

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