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Hillary Clinton on Crime

Democratic Jr Senator (NY); Secretary of State-Designee


Longtime advocate of death penalty, with restrictions

Clinton has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty. Clinton cosponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 which became law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The bill provides funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishes a DNA testing process for individuals sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. As first lady, she lobbied for President Clinton’s crime bill, which expanded the list of crimes subject to the federal death penalty.
Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Politics 2008 Jan 1, 2008

Address the unacceptable increase in incarceration

Q: Some people say your husband’s crime bill is one of the primary factors behind the rising incarceration rate for blacks and Latinos. It earmarked $8 billion dollars for prisons and continued a trend to harsher sentencing. Do you regret how this has affected the black community?

A: I think that the results--not only at the federal level but at the state level--have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board & now we have to address that. At the time, there were reasons why the Congress wanted to push through a certain set of penalties and increase prison construction and there was a lot of support for that across a lot of communities. It’s hard to remember now but the crime rate in the early 1990s was very high. But we’ve got to take stock now of the consequences, so that’s why I want to have a thorough review of all of the penalties, of all the kinds of sentencing, and more importantly start having more diversion and having more second chance programs.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Mandatory sentences have been too widely used

    We have to do all of these things:
  1. We do have to go after racial profiling. I’ve supported legislation to try to tackle that.
  2. We have to go after mandatory minimums. You know, mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes may be appropriate, but it has been too widely used. And it is using now a discriminatory impact.
  3. We need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Pushed to expand AMBER alerts & for stricter sex penalties

Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic increase in media stories of abducted & abused children. Where there has not been an increase in the overall numbers of such cases, many families, and children, are more fearful. I have pushed for legislation that would appoint a national coordinator for AMBER alerts, and alert system for missing children; provide additional protections for children, and establish stricter punishments for sex offenders. That legislation passed the Congress in 2003
Source: 2006 intro to It Takes A Village, by H. Clinton, p.303 Dec 12, 2006

Police & firemen refused to shake her hand at Ground Zero

It was likely no surprise to Hillary that there is bad blood between her and police, fire fighters, and other first responders. Still, the depth of their disdain had to have come as a shock when police and firemen refused to shake her hand at the ruins of the World Trade Center.
Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 63 Feb 25, 2004

2001: police & firemen refused her handshake at Ground Zero

Many of Hillary's problems with police and fire personnel are her own fault, due to the arms-length relationship she displayed toward law enforcement before 9/11. In terms of statistics, the NYC police department in the days of Rudy Giuliani had an exemplary record of keeping guns in holsters (compared to other large municipal police departments). In terms of public standing, every man and woman in blue felt heat over the shooting of Amadou Diallo, the West African immigrant who was mistakenly shot by NYC police officers when he reached for his wallet. Rudy stood by New York's finest. Hillary headed for the tall grass. "She turned down escorts by uniformed police," says a former New York law enforcement official. "Why?"

It was likely no surprise to Hillary that there is bad blood between her and the police, fire and other "first responders." Still, the depth of their disdain had to have come as a shock when police and firemen refused to shake her hand at the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrrell, p. 63 Feb 25, 2004

2000: NYPD needs higher pay and better minority relations

A March 2000 fatal police shooting in NYC of a black man named Patrick Dorismond underscored the Mayor's political vulnerabilities. Giuliani's handling of this tragic case inflamed old hostilities between his office and the city's minority populations. Police officers, in turn, were legitimately frustrated that they were being misunderstood while trying to do their jobs effectively because of a city leadership at war with the communities they were trying to protect. When Giuliani released Dorismond's sealed juvenile records, casting aspersions on a man who was dead, he merely drove the wedge deeper.

The more Giuliani continued with his divisive rhetoric, the more determined I was to offer a different approach. I laid out a plan for improving relations between the police & minorities, including better recruitment, training and compensation for the NYPD. Giuliani's handling of the Dorismond case was wrong. Instead of easing the tensions and uniting the city, he had poured salt into the wound.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.514 Nov 1, 2003

Tap into churches to avoid more Louima & Diallo cases

I would like to add my voice and influence to those who are attempting to bridge the divide between police officers, who have a difficult and dangerous job of fighting crime, and the people in the neighborhoods who feel they are treated unfairly and disrepectfully.
The Louima and Diallo cases were not just horrific, but symptomatic of problems in the city’s overall approach to policing. The real challenge is to to adjust the approach-change the climate so that policing is both effective and respectful. There is also a need to for the police to engage the law-abiding members of the community,thus making them a part of the overall plan. In so many communities, no institution has more influence than the neighborhood church, mosque, or synagogue. We must tap into this potential in New York.
Source: New York Times, A29 Mar 9, 2000

Led early crusade for rape evidence and crisis centers

[In her early career in Arkansas, Hillary] made headlines by urging that a coalition of women and prosecuting attorneys push for state legislation requiring that judges rule on the admissibility of evidence of rape victims’ previous sexual conduct before it was presented to the jury. Despite her efforts the bill died in committee. She started Fayetteville’s first rape crisis center and made an effort to educate the local population about sexual violence against women.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 91 Aug 1, 1999

Supports citizen patrols & 3-Strikes-You’re-Out

The first step is to take weapons off the streets and to put more police on them. 25,000 new police officers are being trained, with the goal of adding 75,000 more by the end of the decade. Taking a cue from what’s worked in the past, cities are deploying officers differently, getting them out from behind desks and putting them back on the sidewalks, where they can get to know the people who live and work on the streets they patrol. They will be doing what is called “community policing.”

The other half of community policing, of course, is the community’s role. Citizens have to be active participants in crime prevention. In Houston, nearly a thousand new officers added to the city’s police force since 1991 have been joined by thousands of citizen patrollers observing and reporting suspicious or criminal behavior in an anticrime campaign.

Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.126-127 Sep 25, 1996

Supports “Three Strikes” and more prison

There is something wrong when a crime bill takes six years to work its way through Congress and the average criminal serves only four.

We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.

Source: Unique Voice, p.189-90: Remarks at Annual Women in Policing Aug 10, 1994

Voted YES on reinstating $1.15 billion funding for the COPS Program.

Amendment would increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources. The funding is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.

This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.

Reference: Biden Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.529 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-110 on Mar 23, 2007

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Clinton co-sponsored the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act:

Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.

Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.

  1. Award grants to assist State and local law enforcement officials with extraordinary expenses for interstate hate crimes.

  2. Award grants to State and local programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

  3. Prohibit specified offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

  4. Increase criminal sentencing for adult recruitment of juveniles to commit hate crimes.

  5. Collect and publish data about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on gender.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1343 on Apr 3, 2001

Require DNA testing for all federal executions.

Clinton co-sponsored the Innocence Protection Act:

Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.

    Summary: Authorizes a person convicted of a Federal crime to apply for DNA testing to support a claim that the person did not commit:

  1. the Federal crime of which the person was convicted; or

  2. any other offense that a sentencing authority may have relied upon when it sentenced the person with respect to such crime.

  3. Prohibits a State from denying an application for DNA testing made by a prisoner in State custody who is under sentence of death if specified conditions apply.

  4. Provides grants to prosecutors for DNA testing programs.

  5. Establishes the National Commission on Capital Representation.

  6. Withholds funds from States not complying with standards for capital representation.

  7. Provides for capital defense incentive grants and resource grants.

  8. Increases compensation in Federal cases, and sets forth provisions regarding compensation in State cases, where an individual is unjustly sentenced to death.

  9. Adds a certification requirement in Federal death penalty prosecutions.

  10. Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR912 on Mar 7, 2001

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Clinton co-sponsored increasing funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program

COPS Improvements Act of 2007 - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make grants for public safety and community policing programs (COPS ON THE BEAT or COPS program). Revises grant purposes to provide for:

  1. the hiring or training of law enforcement officers for intelligence, antiterror, and homeland security duties;
  2. the hiring of school resource officers;
  3. school-based partnerships between local law enforcement agencies and local school systems to combat crime, gangs, drug activities, and other problems facing elementary and secondary schools;
  4. innovative programs to reduce and prevent illegal drug (including methamphetamine) manufacturing, distribution, and use; and
  5. enhanced community policing and crime prevention grants that meet emerging law enforcement needs.
    Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to:
  1. assign community prosecutors to handle cases from specific geographic areas and address counterterrorism problems, specific violent crime problems, and localized violent and other crime problems; and
  2. develop new technologies to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in crime prevention.
Source: COPS Improvements Act (S.368/H.R.1700) 07-S368 on Jan 23, 2007

Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance.

Clinton co-sponsored reducing recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance

Legislative Outcome: Became Public Law No: 110-199.
Source: Second Chance Act (S.1060/H.R.1593) 08-S1060 on Mar 29, 2007

Other candidates on Crime: Hillary Clinton on other issues:
NY Gubernatorial:
David Paterson
NY Senatorial:
Charles Schumer
Kirsten Gillibrand

Newly elected in 2008 & seated in 2009:
AK:Begich (D)
CO:Udall (D)
ID:Risch (R)
MN:Franken (D)
NC:Hagan (D)
NE:Johanns (R)
NH:Shaheen (D)
NM:Udall (D)
OR:Merkley (D)
VA:Warner (D)

Newly appointed in 2009;
special election in 2010:

DE:Kaufman (D)
CO:Bennet (D)
IL:Burris (D)
MA:Brown (R)
NY:Gillibrand (D)

Announced retirement as of 2010:
DE:Kaufman (D)
FL:Martinez (R)
KS:Brownback (R)
MO:Bond (R)
OH:Voinovich (R)


Up for 6-year term in 2010:
(13 Democrats; 15 Republicans)
AK:Murkowski (R)
AL:Shelby (R)
AR:Lincoln (D)
AZ:McCain (R)
CA:Boxer (D)
CT:Dodd (D)
GA:Isakson (R)
HI:Inouye (D)
IA:Grassley (R)
ID:Crapo (R)
IN:Bayh (D)
KY:Bunning (R)
LA:Vitter (R)
MD:Mikulski (D)
NC:Burr (R)
ND:Dorgan (D)
NH:Gregg (R)
NV:Reid (D)
NY:Schumer (D)
OK:Coburn (R)
OR:Wyden (D)
PA:Specter (R)
SC:DeMint (R)
SD:Thune (R)
UT:Bennett (R)
VT:Leahy (D)
WA:Murray (D)
WI:Feingold (D)
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Page last updated: Jan 27, 2010