Tim Kaine on Crime

Democratic Senate Challenger; previously Governor


Systemic racial inequities in the criminal justice system

Q: You say that "equality as a nation... is the very foundation of what we are." Does that extend to the criminal justice system? Your Democratic colleague Elizabeth Warren says it`s 100 percent racist front to back.

KAINE: There are deep, deep challenges.

Q: You agree with her?

KAINE: There are systemic racial inequities in the criminal justice system, absolutely. So, when I`m saying we have this policy [of "equality as a nation"], we`re not living it perfectly in any sphere. Criminal justice, I think, would be one where there are significant problems. Look at the disproportionate incarceration rates. Now, to say the entire system is racist--hey, I know fantastic law enforcement professionals, judges, prosecutors who are doing their best every day to reduce inequality. But if you just look at the results, the outcome, who is incarcerated?

Source: CBS Face the Nation on 2018 Virginia Senate race , Aug 12, 2018

Require police to wear body cameras

Q: Should police officers be required to wear body cameras?

Tim Kaine's answer: Yes

Mike Pence's answer: Yes

Gary Johnson's answer (Libertarian Party): Yes, this will protect the safety and rights of police officers and citizens

Donald Trump's answer: No, it should be a police department's or officer's choice to wear one

Q: Should convicted felons have the right to vote?

Tim Kaine's answer: No

Mike Pence's answer: Yes

Gary Johnson's answer (Libertarian Party): Yes

Donald Trump's answer: No

Q: Should prisons ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles?

Tim Kaine has not answered this question yet.

Mike Pence's answer: Yes

Gary Johnson's answer (Libertarian Party): No, it is necessary for violent criminals who are a danger to themselves and other inmates

Donald Trump's answer: No

Source: iSideWith.com analysis of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 1, 2016

I opposed death penalty but upheld the law

Q: Can you discuss a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position?

KAINE: For me, the hardest struggle in my faith life was the Catholic Church is against the death penalty and so am I. But I was governor of a state, and the state law said that there was a death penalty for crimes if the jury determined them to be heinous. And so I had to grapple with that. When I was running for governor, I was attacked pretty strongly because of my position on the death penalty. But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, "look, this is my religion. I'm not going to change my religious practice to get one vote, but I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me, I will uphold the law." And I was elected, and I did. It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstances where I didn't feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did. That was a real struggle.

Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Racial biases do exist in the criminal justice system

Philando Castile, who was killed in St. Paul, was a valued worker in a local school. He was killed for no apparent reason in an incident that will be discussed and will be investigated. They called him Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks in the school that he worked. The kids loved him. But he had been stopped by police 40 or 50 times before that fatal incident. And if you look at sentencing in this country, African-Americans and Latinos get sentenced for the same crimes at very different rates.
Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Community policing makes community safer AND police safer

Q: Do we ask too much of police officers?

A: We put a lot on police shoulders. Here's what I learned as a mayor and a governor. The way you make communities and police safer is through community policing. You build the bonds between the community and the police force, build bonds of understanding, and then when people feel comfortable in their communities, that gap between the police and the communities they serve narrows. And when it does, it's safer for the communities and for the police.

Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Kaine's Project Exile disproportionately impacted blacks

As Richmond mayor from 1998 to 2001, Kaine was a vocal supporter of Project Exile, crediting it with reducing the city's murder rate. Its goal was to literally live up to its name by making illegal gun possession a federal, not a state, crime, which allowed prosecutors to send convicted felons, most of them black, to a distant federal penitentiary for at least five years.
Source: Reuters, "USA Election," on 2016 Veepstakes , Jul 22, 2016

Kaine's Project Exile disproportionately impacted blacks

As Richmond mayor from 1998 to 2001, Kaine was a vocal supporter of Project Exile, crediting it with reducing the city's murder rate. Its goal was to literally live up to its name by making illegal gun possession a federal, not a state, crime, which allowed prosecutors to send convicted felons, most of them black, to a distant federal penitentiary for at least five years.

The now-defunct Project Exile that Kaine backed was championed by Republicans and Democrats alike and by both gun lobby groups & gun-control advocates. But the program was also criticized at the time as a racially biased initiative that condemned young black men to lengthy prison terms. Officials during Kaine's mayoral tenure believe the community, ravaged by the crack-cocaine epidemic, had to take dramatic steps. As Richmond's first white mayor in more than a decade, Kaine was widely credited for helping to bridge racial divisions in the city, but Project Exile drew fire that the program unfairly targeted African-Americans.

Source: Reuters news service, "Crime-busting past" by James Oliphant , Jul 22, 2016

Opposes death penalty as a Catholic, but upholds VA law

[Kaine commented on his Catholic faith]: If faith is central to Kaine's political identity, it is also a source of personal pain for an otherwise unfailingly upbeat campaigner. He grows solemn when the topic is capital punishment, the point at which Kaine's political ambitions appeared to trump his moral convictions. Kaine adroitly defused the issue, promising voters he would not block the state's death penalty machinery, despite his personal beliefs.
Source: Washington Post, "Moral convictions" on 2016 Veepstakes , Jan 7, 2016

Focus attention on the overuse of incarceration

I also pledge to continue Senator Jim Webb's effort to focus attention on the overuse of incarceration in this nation, especially as applied to African-American males.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, kaineforva.com , Oct 9, 2012

Release non-violent inmates 90 days early

The Department of Corrections is one of Virginia's largest agencies. Last fall, we restructured prison facilities, closing older and smaller facilities to become more efficient.

However, the state's budget for incarceration has dramatically outpaced other spending items over the past decade. While we must not make changes that would compromise public safety, we have a responsibility to examine the costs and benefits of such dramatic growth.

Current law allows the director of the Department of Corrections to release inmates up 30 days before the end of their term. I have proposed a change that would allow the director the discretion to release inmates convicted of non-violent crimes up to 90 days early, if warranted by good behavior.

This small change will result in significant budget savings without compromising public safety. It has been endorsed by Virginia's sheriffs and police chiefs because it will help us deal with persistent jail overcrowding problems.

Source: Virginia 2009 State of the State address , Jan 14, 2009

Smart sentencing: reduce number of "technical violations"

I have also proposed legislation to slow the growth of the prison population by reducing the number of "technical violators" who are sent back to prison every year not for committing new crimes, but for violating technicalities of their parole. This is the kind of smart sentencing approach that saves taxpayer money without compromising public safety.
Source: Virginia 2009 State of the State address , Jan 14, 2009

Don't re-traumatize sex crime victims during investigation

We cannot prevent all crime. So, we must always look for ways to comfort crime victims. This year, we can make significant changes to how we treat victims of sexual assault.

The physical and emotional trauma suffered by victims of sexual violence, often compounded by silence and stigma surrounding the crime, calls for special attention. It is imperative that victims are not re-traumatized as a crime is investigated.

We have the opportunity this session to do what is right in this area. If we can prohibit involuntary polygraph testing of victims, pay for the collection of evidence used to prosecute attackers, repeal antiquated laws that provide safe harbor for offenders, and give adequate support to community crisis centers, we will have gone a long way towards setting the system right.

Source: 2008 State of the State address to Virginia Assembly , Jan 9, 2008

Supports Project Exile’s longer mandatory sentences

Richmond’s success in reducing violent crime was built in part on Project Exile. Project Exile is based on a strong working relationship among federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to maximize the punishment of criminals who commit crimes with guns.

Criminals quickly learned to fear Project Exile’s longer mandatory sentences. The program helped cut our violent crime rate in half. Project Exile won the support of law enforcement nationwide and received bipartisan approval from Presidents Clinton and Bush as well as the National Rifle Association and gun safety groups. Governor Gilmore expanded the program to the entire state in 1998. It has now been copied by cities and states all around the nation. One of Tim Kaine’s proudest possessions is the award given to Richmond for Project Exile by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Source: 2005 Gubernatorial campaign website kaine2005.org, “Issues” , Nov 8, 2005

Moratorium on the death penalty until it is fair

I support a moratorium on the death penalty. The history of the death penalty in Virginia is rife with examples of people being imprisoned for years, who were innocent.

As an example, for many years, rape was a capital crime in Virginia. But when the history of execution of rape was analyzed, it became clear that rape was only a capital crime if you were African-American. That was wrong.

[As another example], most people who are on death row are poor and cannot afford their own attorneys.

Until such a time that the death penalty works fairly and doesn’t single people out by race or because of income or other invidious characteristics, there should be a moratorium on the death penalty in Virginia

Source: Opposition audio clip, www.jerrykilgore.com , Nov 8, 2005

Rated 64% by the NAPO, indicating a moderate stance on police issues.

Kaine scores 64% by the NAPO on crime & police issues

Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.

"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nation’s capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPO’s accomplishments:

VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:

Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014

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Page last updated: Jul 18, 2020