Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, made a sweeping stereotype about people behind bars, suggesting they have quite a few things in common. One of which, according to Joe, is that they “can’t read.” He didn’t stop there, however.
During a Friday appearance on the Breakfast Club radio program, Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that people in jail have a few things in common, one of which is they “can’t read,” according to Breitbart News. The remarks occurred during a conversation where Biden defended his support of the 1990s anti-crime bills.
The bills called for heavier prison sentences for nonviolent drug charges. Critics allege that this led to the increased incarceration of black Americans. Of course, Biden disagrees with that assessment. “You take a look at my record. People talk about the crime bill. [The] crime bill didn’t increase mass incarceration. Other things increased mass incarceration,” Biden said.
Doubling down, Bided added that the effort “did, in fact, bring down violent crime in black communities as well.” In addition to denying that the bills lead to increased incarceration, he also alleged that he and his “colleagues in a black caucus in the United States Congress” have been fighting to change the “entire prison system for one that is punishment to rehabilitation.”
Biden went on to explain three things he believes that those who are incarcerated all have in common. “There’s only a couple things everybody has in common in jail,” Biden said. “One is they were the victims of abuse, or their kids were, or their or the mother was. Number two, [they] can’t read,” he added. “Number three, they don’t have any job skills. They were in a position where they didn’t get a chance.”
While this might prove true for some inmates, it’s hardly the case for every single person behind bars. Plenty of incarcerated individuals did not suffer abuse, can actually read, and do have job skills. Biden needed to use his broad brush to paint his picture, however, in order to support his next suggestion.
Claiming that people released from prison “end up under a bridge,” Biden said, “every single solitary person” released from prison, pointing to African-Americans in particular, should have access to public housing. “Every single solitary person being released from prison should have access to every single government program. Why does it not make sense to have African-Americans who’re getting out of prison … everybody, for that matter, be able to have public housing?” he asked.
In addition, they should be given education and healthcare too. “Why doesn’t it make sense that they can have Pell grants to go to school? Why doesn’t it make sense that they can have access to healthcare? What are we, nuts? ‘Cause that’s what we keep doing,” Biden said. The simple answer, Joe, is that money doesn’t grow on trees. The government doesn’t have an endless supply of resources. Those “government programs” come from tax-paying Americans. We also don’t want to incentivize incarceration.
While it might be hard for some to believe, when I worked in the prison system as a nurse, there were plenty of inmates who unashamedly admitted that they had either initially gotten locked up or reoffended in order to gain some benefit offered in the prison system. Most commonly, I heard such stories from HIV positive inmates, who liked the free healthcare offered behind bars. Is it really hard to imagine a spike in crime if those who serve their time are then promised housing, healthcare, and schooling on their release?
That would hardly make prison a deterrent to crime, which is its intention. The only thing all incarcerated individuals have in common is the fact that they are convicted criminals. Referring back to my previous remark — where I pointed out that government resources are not endless — I believe many tax-paying citizens would rather see their hard-earned cash going to programs that help the innocent, such as our nation’s children, elderly, disabled, or veterans. Not to someone who broke the law.
Before Joe advocates for those behind bars, he should go talk to a few of inmates first. I’m sure there are plenty who would like to set him straight on his negative assumptions. Black Americans — even those behind bars — can read, Mr. Biden, but thanks for another off the wall, seemingly racist remark. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is spearheading real prison reform that’s not based on stereotypes.
Lastly, if illiteracy is the problem, the fix isn’t handouts for those who break the law. The answer is increasing the literacy rate, starting with our youth. Democrats have never been big on getting to the root cause of a problem. Instead, it seems to me that they prefer to throw our money at it after the fact, even when it doesn’t offer a viable solution. After all, how does giving away housing and healthcare help someone read? It doesn’t. It might buy some votes, however, which I think is the real intention.