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Biden’s Criminal Justice Reform Plan: Key Takeaways

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Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden gestures while meeting with patrons at a restaurant in Los Angeles on July 19th, 2019.

Amid ongoing criticism over his record on race and crime, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a wide-reaching criminal justice reform plan on Tuesday with goals to reduce prison populations, create a more just society, and increase community safety.

The Biden Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice calls attention to mass incarceration and the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the criminal justice system. The plan also emphasizes a need for the system to center around rehabilitation and redemption rather than punishment.

Here is a breakdown of the plan’s core action areas and key items Biden hopes to achieve in each category, plus ways his plan compares to those of other Democratic hopefuls.

Preventing Crime and Providing Opportunities

Biden emphasizes a need to address underlying factors, such as growing up in foster care or having a mental-health or substance abuse disorder, that increase likelihood of incarceration. He wants to create a $20 billion competitive grant program giving states, counties, and cities funds to launch preventative efforts to reduce crime and incarceration if they comply with certain requirements, like eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes.

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