In 1976 speech, Biden said US criminal justice should focus on punishment not rehabilitation

In a 1976 speech in Idaho, then-Sen. Joe Biden said the U.S. criminal justice system should stress punishment rather than rehabilitation — a direct contradiction to his current platform, which focuses on rehabilitation, according to a report.

“Why should we liberals, why should we Democrats, apologize for saying a criminal justice system has implicit in it the idea that a crime should be met with a punishment? What is wrong with that?” the senator from Delaware said at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Boise, Idaho, in audio reportedly obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“Why should we liberals, why should we Democrats, apologize for saying a criminal justice system has implicit in it the idea that a crime should be met with a punishment? What is wrong with that?”

— Joe Biden, in 1976 speech

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In the speech, Biden also said that liberals claim convicts need to be rehabilitated but there’s a recognition that “We have not found a way to rehabilitate.”

He added if Democrats didn’t get tougher on criminals voters would start to support politicians like Alabama segregationist George Wallace, who was strict on crime.

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