Facebook-owned Instagram on Wednesday censored as “false” a user’s claim that President-elect Joe Biden’s 1994 crime law contributed to the mass jailing of black people.
That claim is vehemently supported by both left-wing and conservative criminal justice reform advocates, and by lawyers for people with long prison sentences.
Artist Brad Troemel, who has more than 100,000 Instagram followers, posted a photo of Biden and then-President Bill Clinton, writing: “Find someone that looks at you the way Biden looked at Clinton after Clinton signed Biden’s crime bill into law. Bringing mass incarceration to black Americans.”
The post was quickly censored with an interstitial warning saying it is “False Information.”
A message explaining the censorship says, “Independent fact-checkers say this information has no basis in fact.” Users are told the claim was rated “False” by a USA Today reporter, Doug Stanglin, in July.
Facebook spokeswoman Stephanie Otway told The Post that Instragram won’t end its censorship unless USA Today changes its assessment.
“People can appeal a rating by contacting a fact-checking partner directly. Fact-checking partners are ultimately responsible for deciding whether to update a rating, which will lift enforcement on the content,” she said.
Whether Biden’s law contributed to mass incarceration is a matter of debate.
The 1994 law included $12.5 billion in grants to encourage states to adopt “truth in sentencing” laws that required inmates to serve most of their sentence. A separate three-strikes provision gave many drug dealers federal life sentences.
USA Today’s analysis leans in part on a report from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which found the law “helped fuel a prison construction boom” and that “while some states had already started to enact tougher sentencing laws, the legislation rewarded states for those decisions, providing powerful incentives for others to adopt them.”
USA Today focused heavily on whether the law increased the percentage of blacks within the prison system.
“Black prisoners in 1995 accounted for 45.7% of prisoners, and in 2002 accounted for 45.1%,” USA Today wrote.
The total number of prisoners in the US, however, increased from fewer than 1.6 million in 1995 to more than 2 million in 2002, meaning there were more blacks in prison.
USA Today acknowledged that because blacks are a minority, a stable percentage of blacks as part of a growing prison population disproportionately impacted the group.
But the newspaper said: “Our research finds that while the crime bill did increase the prison population in states, it did not bring about a mass incarceration relative to earlier years. Rather, it coincided with a slowdown in the annual grown of the state and federal prison population. Nor did it bring about mass incarceration of Black people, compared to before the bill was passed.”
That’s a hotly disputed finding, however.
Left-wing activist and Harvard Divinity School professor Cornel West, who begrudgingly backed Biden this year, said in an interview last year, “When [Biden] says it didn’t contribute to mass incarceration, I tell him he has to get off his symbolic crack pipe.”
The Brennan Center, meanwhile, said that law’s legacy is “complicated” but did not state that it’s incorrect to link it to mass incarceration.
“It contained powerful funding incentives that ensnared more Americans in the ever-widening net of the criminal justice system. But many of its provisions also protected communities and victims of crimes, like an assault weapons ban and protections for women in abusive relationships,” the center said.
Among those asking President Trump for clemency before he leaves office on Jan. 20 is Corvain Cooper, 41, a black man who has a life sentence under the 1994 law for his role transporting marijuana from California to North Carolina.
Cooper’s attorney Patrick Michael Megaro told The Post last month: “Biden is responsible for the 1994 crime law that [resulted in] Corvain Cooper being sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for marijuana.”
Even some Biden supporters slammed his record during the presidential campaign over the ’94 crime bill.
Radio host Charlamagne Tha God recounted during a TV interview, “When [Biden] was on the Breakfast Club, another part of that interview that people miss is that I asked him about the ’94 crime bill, and the ’94 crime bill being the catalyst for mass incarceration in this country. And he said it wasn’t the crime bill, it was the ’86 mandatory minimum sentencing. But I’m like, ‘Joe, you wrote that too.’”
While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, President-elect Joe Biden ran into an argument during an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio co-host “Charlamagne tha God”.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB ON POWER 105.1/Handout via REUTERS
The 1986 Biden law led to a life sentence for Alice Johnson, the prominent former prisoner and advocate released from prison by Trump at the urging of Kim Kardashian.
Republicans in Congress rallied to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives social media companies immunity for third-party content, after Facebook and Twitter censored The Post’s October reporting on a Hunter Biden hard drive with documents appearing to link Joe Biden to his son’s business relationships in China and Ukraine. Facebook said it throttled distribution of The Post’s reporting pending “fact checking” but later relented.
Hunter Biden confirmed this month he’s under federal investigation.