Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration have taken a multi-prong approach to increase public safety and reduce violent crime in the US by increasing funding for crime prevention and crime intervention; hiring more crisis responders, social workers and police; holding police accountable; and passing gun control legislation.
What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?
- Passed the Safer Communities Act (SCA) – the first gun control bill passed in 30 years! SCA requires background checks for buyers under 21, disarms domestic abusers by closing the “boyfriend loophole,” supports state red flag laws, funds youth mental health services and anti-violence prevention and intervention programs, cracks down on gun trafficking, provides school safety funding, provides funds for hiring police and accountability programs for police and invests in crime prevention.
- Strengthened public safety by providing access to billions for community violence intervention programs which have been shown to reduce violence by up to 60% in through the American Rescue Plan and FY2022 appropriations.
- Provided funding for victims of crime via amendments to the Victims of Crime Act which expanded the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund.
- Directed federal agencies to address and improve public safety for Native American and Indigenous communities through enforcement and prevention.
- Passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act which will significantly improve the reporting and data collection of federal hate crimes since the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990.
- Passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act which finally makes lynching a federal hate crime after 200 attempts since 1900 to get this passed!
- Passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization.
- Note: Despite the mainstream media’s focus on violent crime in Northern (“blue”) cities like Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, the top 7 states for homicides per capita are in “red” states – MS, LA, AL, MO, AR, SC, TN. In 2020, the per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Trump than those won by Biden. 8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century. So the claim that Dems are “soft on crime” and that’s why violence is higher is false.
What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?
- Passed the Safer Communities Act (SCA) – the first gun control bill passed in 30 years which:
- Requires background checks. Buyers under 21 must pass a background check before purchasing a firearm.
- Disarms domestic abusers. SCA closes the “boyfriend loophole” so if someone is convicted of assault against a dating partner, they cannot buy a gun.
- Supports state red flag laws. These laws allow police, family members or even doctors to petition a court to take away someone’s firearms for up to a year if they feel that person is a threat to themselves or others.
- Funds youth mental health services. Provides historic funding to address the youth mental health crisis and community violence intervention programs. Here’s a great summary from Sen. Patty Murray.
- Funds anti-violence prevention and community violence intervention programs. SCA provides critical funding for anti-violence programs to work directly with people most likely to commit or become victims of gun crimes. These investments include:
- Helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society by lifting nearly all restrictions on eligibility and access to vital federal benefits and programs that people need to get back on their feet after leaving incarceration.
- Referring individuals charged with only drug possession into mandatory treatment and harm reduction services instead of incarceration.
- Increasing mental health and substance use disorder services, including by training existing professionals to become certified in cognitive behavioral therapy (which helps people improve their response to stress and reduce impulsivity), trauma-informed therapy, and other evidence-based treatments effective at addressing mental health problems, disruptive behaviors, and exposure to or risk of violence.
- Providing housing and other social services to individuals who are homeless.
- Increasing job training, employment, housing, and other stabilizing services and opportunities for people returning home from jail and prison.
- Cracks down on gun trafficking. Establishes the first ever federal laws against interstate gun trafficking and straw purchasing to stop the flow of illegal guns into cities.
- Provides school safety funding. SCA funds school violence prevention efforts, training, and the implementation of safety measures at primary and secondary schools.
- Provides funding for accountability programs for police, and training and hiring police. In addition to the $10B in funding given for public safety and policing with the American Rescue Plan (ARP), SCA provides more funding for accountability of police, and training and hiring police. (Note: Dems are not defunding the police and in fact, Republicans have voted 2x against additional funding for police when every Republican voted against ARP and the majority against SCA.)
- Increases public safety and reduce mass incarceration by establishing the Accelerating Justice System Reform program. With nearly 2M people incarcerated, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, spending $182B to lock up nearly 1% of our adult population. Yet, it is estimated that 40% of the prison population presents no public safety threat. The Accelerating Justice System Reform program provides cities and states with funding to reduce incarceration rates and improve public safety. Such efforts include: identifying non-violent situations that would be better served by a public health response than police; repealing mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes; expanding access to mental health and substance abuse disorder services; hiring more crisis responders, violence interrupters, and social workers; and increasing access to job training, education, housing, and other supportive services that prevent crime and advance equity.
- Improved public safety. By providing access to billions in funding under the American Rescue Plan, the FY22 appropriations package and through dedicated funding provided by DOJ, Dept. of Ed, HHS, CDC, HUD and Dept. of Labor, Biden and Dems have made a historic investment in community violence intervention programs which have been shown to reduce violence by up to 60%. These investments and other strategies will reduce gun crime and ensure public safety, including the safety of communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
- Provided funding for victims of crime. Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) expand the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund.
- Directed federal agencies to address and improve public safety for Native American and Indigenous communities through enforcement and prevention. President Biden issued an executive order directing the DOJ, Interior, Homeland Security and HHS to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans and to address the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, which disproportionately affect Native women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals. Interior also established the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- Passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This Act is considered by anti-hate crime advocacy groups the single most significant piece of legislation to improve the reporting and data collection of federal hate crimes since the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990. The DOJ will provide incentives to local and state law enforcement agencies to fight hate. It also establishes guidelines to improve relationships between AAPI community and police.
- Passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. This landmark federal law finally makes lynching a federal hate crime. It has taken 200 attempts since 1900 to get this passed!
- Passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization. In 2019, after nearly 30 years in existence, the GOP Senate majority refused to reauthorize VAWA for the first time since 1994. Dems, however, passed it in 2022 by including it in the 2022 Omnibus Reconciliation Bill and were able to extend VAWA to 2027. New VAWA provisions include:
- Expanded special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators.
- Increased services and support for sexual assault/domestic violence survivors in underserved communities (including LGBTQI+).
- Established a federal civil cause of action for individuals whose intimate visual images are disclosed without their consent, allowing a victim to recover damages and legal fees.
- Created a new National Resource Center on Cyber Crimes Against Individuals.
- Implemented the Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state victim compensation programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized due to rape kit backlogs.
- Supported rape prevention and sexual assault survivor programs.
- Enacted the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms who try to do so.
- Updated the SMART Prevention Program and the CHOOSE Youth Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
- Improved the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.
LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2022