Issue Position: Crime
"Fighting crime is like cutting grass. In the summer I cut my grass on a Saturday and it looks great. I let it go for a week, it looks a little shaggy. Let it go for two weeks, I notice it. Let it go for a month, I have the weeds back." -- Senator Joe Biden
THE BIDEN PLAN: $10 BILLION TO MAKE AMERICA SAFER
Hometown and Homeland Security: Believing nothing is of value to Americans if our borders are unprotected, our streets are unsafe, and we cannot walk in our neighborhoods, Senator Biden has made fighting crime a top priority. He has worked to restore billions of dollars in funding cuts made to local law enforcement officials. And he has his own plan - to invest $10 billion a year for five years - to make America safer: Here's what he wants to do:
Hire 50,000 Cops and 1,000 FBI Agents: In the 1990s, the Biden Crime Bill added 100,000 cops to America's streets, helping to bring down murder and violent crime rates eight years in a row. But with cuts to the program crime is on the rise again, as are threats of terrorism, so the Senator wants to put an additional 50,000 cops on America's streets and add 1,000 FBI agents.
Reducing the Number of Repeat Offenders: Two-thirds of people released from state prisons are re-arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of release. These offenders are re-entering our communities with insufficient monitoring, little or no job skills, inadequate drug treatment, insufficient housing, limited health services, and few positive influences. Senator Biden has authored the Second Chance Act, to provide ex-offenders with housing, drug and alcohol treatment, job training and other life skills they need to rejoin their families and communities.
Scan 100 Percent of Cargo Containers Entering Our Ports: Today, only 5 percent of cargo entering our seaports is scanned, even though our ports are among America's most vulnerable targets. Should a terrorist attack and we have to suspend operations at every port, as we did after 9/11 at every airport, it would cost this economy $58 billion in 12 days. Senator Biden wants 100 percent of containers to be scanned to prevent radiological and other dangerous materials from being smuggled into America and has offered a plan to do so.
Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations: After the tragedy of 9/11, a bi-partisan Commission looked at where America is most vulnerable and recommend how to make our ports, chemical plants, railways, and other critical infrastructure more secure. Senator Biden wants to act on their recommendations.
Help First Responders Communicate: America's first responders still cannot easily communicate with each other in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Why? The communications equipment between a unit of the National Guard, the local fire fighter or cop, or other first responders is not all interoperable. Senator Biden wants to give first responders the equipment they need, so if there is a Katrina or a 9/11, the dedicated professionals or volunteers can do their jobs.
Push for Passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill: In October, Senator Biden introduced an omnibus crime bill that carefully sets forth his comprehensive crime plan. The Biden Crime Control and Prevention Act (the "CCPA") will make American communities safer again by re-establishing a Federal, state and local partnership to implement effective prevention programs; to hire, train, and equip more law enforcement officers; and to reform prisons to safely house offenders and prepare them to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.
THE BIDEN RECORD: A LIFETIME OF SUPPORT
Stopping Violence Against Women: Senator Biden often says the Biden Violence Against Women Act is his proudest accomplishment. It set up the system of national shelters so battered women, who are being abused by husbands and boyfriends have a place to go. Before the law, it was easier to find a shelter for a dog than a battered wife. It also established a national hotline that 1.5 million abused women have called. As a result, domestic violence is down by 50 percent and rape by 60 percent. He is continuing his efforts, now establishing a program to get legal help to needy women.
Passing the Biden Crime Law: The landmark law the Senator wrote in 1994 that put 100,000 cops on the street and reduced crime eight years in a row also built drug courts, where non-violent offenders are forced into mandatory drug treatment and testing; and helped communities establish safe havens to keep children off the streets, through programs like Boys and Girls Clubs and the Police Athletic Leagues.
Making Delaware Safer: In Delaware, the Biden Crime Bill has provided more than $33 million in grants to hire more than 462 officers, more than $10 million in grants for crime-fighting technologies, and more than $22.5 million to help the state's prison projects. The Crime Law has also provided over $1 million to create and expand prison-based drug treatment programs, helped combat domestic violence, and helped build new and expand existing Boys & Girls Clubs.
Protecting America's Kids: A series of laws the Senator authored in the last two decades have increasingly protected kids against sexual predators. In 1994, he required every state to establish a registry for convicted sexual offenders; in 1996, he helped create the national registry of sexual predators, so these criminals could not move from state to state to avoid being tracked. In 2003, he authored the Victims of Child Abuse Act, increasing funding for Child Advocacy Centers. And in 2006, he authored the Adam Walsh Act that establishes registration requirements to ensure convicted sex offenders can't slip through the cracks and harm our children.
Curbing Drug Use: Senator Biden is well known for his work to curb drug use in America. He created the Drug Czar's office in the White House to coordinate federal programs in the war against drugs; he wrote the Biden Drug Free Schools Zone law, imposing special penalties for dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, and enabling schools to provide drug education and prevention programs, like DARE; and he was instrumental in classifying steroids a drug and funding programs to deter its use by students.
Restoring Corporate Integrity: In light of high-profile crimes by CEOS of corporations like Enron, Senator Biden sponsored legislation requiring top executives of public companies to certify the accuracy of their financial statements, and to lock them up if their certifications are false.
Keeping Criminals Behind Bars: Legislation the Senator wrote provides funds so states can build prisons, if they agree to keep their violent offenders behind bars for at least 85 percent of their sentence. Previously, state prisoners averaged only 40 percent of their sentence behind bars.
THE BIDEN RECORD ON FIREFIGHTERS
A Personal Connection: For over three decades, Senator Biden has had a personal bond with fire fighters. His local Delaware volunteer fire fighters helped in what he calls three of the most consequential events in his life. In 1972, after his wife and his three children were broadsided by a tractor trailer, the fire service was able to save his two young sons trapped in the automobile. In 1988, after the Senator was diagnosed with a life-threatening cranial aneurism, his local firefighters drove him in the middle of a snow storm from Delaware to Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington, D.C., for major surgery. And a few years ago when lightening struck his house, again the fire service was there and saved his home.
Increase SAFER Grants: Senator Biden was an early supporter of the SAFER Act, which has helped 400 local departments - large and small - hire additional fire fighters. When President Bush attempted to eliminate the program, Senator Biden worked to restore it and increased federal support for hiring both paid and volunteer first responders. But more needs to be done, as two-thirds of our fire departments are still understaffed and many first responders are overworked. Senator Biden's Homeland Security Trust Fund Act, includes $500 million to fund the SAFER program every year for the next five years.
Leadership to honor the fallen: Senator Biden has co-chaired the Congressional Fire Services Caucus from 2005-2007 and continually advocated numerous measures to honor fallen fire fighters. He has repeatedly fought for better enforcement of the Hometown Heroes Act. Senator Biden wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking for vastly improved response time when it was revealed that families of fallen firefighters were not receiving their due compensation in a reasonable amount of time.
Fire Safety on America's Campuses: Since 2000, some 100 people have died in campus-related fires - and many of the tragedies could have been prevented with proper safety measures. So Senator Biden annually introduces a resolution declaring September Campus Fire Safety Month. It encourages college administrators and local elected officials to implement educational programs, evaluate living conditions on and around campuses, and increase the use of fire detection systems.