FLASHBACK: Biden joined ACLU prisoner release pledge, said he would release 'more than' half of inmates

FLASHBACK: Biden joined ACLU prisoner release pledge, said he would release ‘more than’ half of inmates

President Biden joined the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) pledge to release half of the U.S. prison population while he was on the campaign trail in 2019, saying he would go further and release “more than” what the organization called for.

Several Democrats running for office across the United States have endorsed the idea of slashing prison numbers, with Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman saying he wants to cut the incarcerated population by a third.

Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for Senate in Ohio, made headlines on the campaign trail after his 2019 ACLU presidential trail pledge to cut the prison population in half resurfaced.

WISCONSIN LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES, SENATE CANDIDATE, SUPPORTED CUTTING PRISON POPULATION IN HALF

In 2019, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would support the ACLU pledge to release half of the American prison population, saying he would release “more than” what the organization called for.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Additionally, Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes has repeatedly advocated for cutting the state’s prison population in half, eliminating cash bail and other progressive criminal justice reforms.

This political pitfall may hit a bit closer to home than some Democrat candidates think, though – Biden threw his hat behind the same ACLU pledge while running for president.

Biden made the pledge in July 2019 when he was asked by an ACLU “rights for all” voter if he would join on in their cause to release 50% of prisoners in America.

“We could do more than that,” Biden responded. “There should be… get his name, I’ll send you exactly what my program is.”

The ACLU voter pressed the then-presidential candidate on whether he’d commit to slashing the prison numbers, to which Biden agreed.

“Yeah, the answer is yes,” Biden said. “But I got a better plan than you guys have.”

TIM RYAN’S PLEDGES TO RELEASE ‘ALL THE NONVIOLENT CRIMINALS,’ SLASH PRISON NUMBERS CONTINUE TO HAUNT HIM

Tim Ryan, Democrat Senate candidate for Ohio, made headlines after his 2019 ACLU pledge to release half of the U.S. prison population resurfaced.

Tim Ryan, Democrat Senate candidate for Ohio, made headlines after his 2019 ACLU pledge to release half of the U.S. prison population resurfaced.
(Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

However, a month before, Biden told reporters that cutting the prison population in half or even by a third is “not a rational way to do it.”

“Here’s the deal,” Biden said. “Folks, there are some circumstances in which people should be behind bars, because, in fact, they have committed a heinous crime and they remain a threat to society.”

“But to arbitrarily say, ‘I’m just going to make a commitment I will cut arbitrarily in half or by a third or by 90%’ is not a rational way of going about it,” he continued.

Fox News Digital asked the White House if the president stands by his 2019 pledge and if he thinks these pledges will help or hurt Democrats running for office. The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

DEM SENATE CANDIDATE FETTERMAN SAYS ‘I AGREE WITH’ CUTTING PRISON POPULATION BY ONE-THIRD IN UNEARTHED CLIP

John Fetterman said he wanted to cut the prison population by one-third.

John Fetterman said he wanted to cut the prison population by one-third.
(AL DÍA News Media)

Vice President Kamala Harris also endorsed “drastically reducing” the prison population while running for president, but would not commit to a specific number.

Crime has become a pertinent issue in the 2022 midterm elections as the crime rates across America have skyrocketed, with Democrats facing an uphill climb with highly visible members of their party supporting policies targeting police.

According to public polling, Republicans are expected to win control of the House and potentially the Senate in the midterm elections that are just eight days away.

President Biden has been making his rounds to support several Democrats running for office as the blue party looks to fend off a Republican takeover.

President Biden has been making his rounds to support several Democrats running for office as the blue party looks to fend off a Republican takeover.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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The president has been making his rounds to support several Democrats running for office as the blue party looks to fend off a Republican takeover.

However, his and other Democrats’ pledges to slash the number of inmates in America may haunt their chances as the GOP takes a tough-on-crime approach.

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.

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