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Bill Clinton Concedes Role in Mass Incarceration

Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Clinton used the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act to criticize efforts in several states to restrict voting, saying they threaten to roll back half a century of progress. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
Former President Bill Clinton speaks during the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Austin, Texas. AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)

 

(CNN) – President Bill Clinton on Wednesday conceded that over-incarceration in the United States stems in part from policies passed under his administration.

Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill in 1994 that included the federal “three strikes” provision, mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. On Wednesday, Clinton acknowledged that policy’s role in over-incarceration in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison,” Clinton said Wednesday. “And we wound up…putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives.”

Clinton’s comments come on the heels of protests in Baltimore over policing and the death of a young black man there and a week after Hillary Clinton delivered one of the first policy addressees of her presidential campaign on criminal justice reform, saying that the system focuses too much on incarceration.

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