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Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 Research Paper

Pages:6 (1724 words)



Topic:Violent Crime

Document Type:Research Paper


Crimes in the U.S.


Contrary to US civil law, the nation’s criminal law represents a legal system which deals with penalizing those who perpetrate criminal offenses. Among the many criminal laws of the nation is its 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or, simply, crime bill. The bill’s enactment was, in a number of ways, characteristic of the tough-on-criminals bipartisan campaign of the latter part of the past century. The bill included numerous positive provisions like greater law enforcement accountability and fresh protections for those victimized by perpetrators of sexual abuse/assault and domestic violence; however, it was believed to worsen the racial gap in involvement in the criminal justice arena (Moore, 2017). Hence, this paper attempts at ascertaining the desired impact of the aforementioned crime bill, as well as court interpretation of the act through examining different aspects of the bill.

History of crime bill

The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or bill was formulated by presidential candidate for the 2020 elections, Joe Biden (a senator at that time). The Congress passed the bill and it was signed into law by the president of the time, Bill Clinton. The act served to allocate several billion dollars towards hiring more law enforcement officials and expanding the nation’s prison systems. It was partially a reaction to horrifying criminal incidents during those years, like the shocking mass shootings that took place in California and Waco, Texas, among other places. A greater number of criminal offenses were categorized, at the federal level, as those calling for a death sentence. Immigration-linked crimes, gangster crimes, hate crimes, and sex crimes were defined and categorized as well, under the law (United States Congress, 1994). Furthermore, the Act financed a larger number of crime prevention initiatives, which included initiatives aimed at counteracting violent acts against females. Still further, the act did away with prisoner Pell grants as well as other academic initiatives for prisoners. At present, certain entities are advocating for the reestablishment of jail academic initiatives and prisoner Pell grants. Finally, the law included establishment of boot-camp- like youth institutions. The enactment of the crime bill resulted in a significant growth in inmate population and a lowering of crime rates in the nation (Shannon, 2019).

Prior to the year 1994, American crime rates grew steadily and sharply right from the ‘60s to the middle of ’70s decade; this corresponds with the growth in utilization of crack cocaine and heroin in the nation. The former drug was quick to become inner-city gangsters’ choice of drug for trading owing to its inexpensive production and selling price, high addiction, affordability and ease of transport. Although the growth in violent offenses wasn’t essentially linked to those who consumed the drugs themselves, it was linked to monetary and territorial clashes between different gangs involved in the US drug trade (The Establishment, 2016). This served to increase gangs’ control in different localities, besides their ability of recruiting new gang members and providing for them. Between the middle of the ‘70s decade and the early ‘90s, violent offense rates continued to be steadily high; the national homicide rate peaked, in the year 1980, and reached 10.2 for every…

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…rate. Figures reveal that a dramatic growth in imprisonment rates, particularly imprisonment of African-American men, began during the 70s; the federal drug war and related laws were enacted in the next decade, with the punishment for usage and distribution of crack cocaine increased (The Establishment, 2016).

Nevertheless, despite these confusing details, one can draw a few potential correlations and theorize causations. The crime bill of 1994 did correspond with a dramatic rise in prosecutor harshness whilst prosecuting offenses. The potential of offenses leading to charges of felony on the part of the prosecutor grew twofold from 1994 to 2008. One simply cannot say, though, whether the above trend was stimulated by the crime bill’s “pro-imprisonment” sentiment, or merely reflecting that sentiment.

Inmates being unable to pursue higher education whilst completing their sentence (because of the Pell grant prohibition) meant they were left with far less resources, upon being set free, to build themselves a crime-less, productive life than before (Shannon, 2019). Youngsters who were incarcerated at the age of 18, when they were foolish though could learn, left prison world-weary, cynical, and unable to gain employment a decade later.

One may strongly content that the 1994 crime act continued criminalizing African-Americans and drug abuse/addiction, resulting in disproportionate mass imprisonment of Latino and African American males. This strategy is only now being corrected and replaced with novel strategies to address the extant heroin epidemic. Conclusions may be drawn regarding the difference of strategy from racial differences of individuals mainly impacted by addiction to heroin, as opposed to crack cocaine.

Lastly, clearly, the huge rise in new prison financing is,…

Sample Source(s) Used


Raymond Derrial Madden, Petitioner-appellant, v. United States of America, Respondent-appellee, 64 F.3d 669 (10th Cir. 1995)

Sepulveda v. United States, 69 F. Supp. 2d 633 (D.N.J. 1999)

United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Joanne Kwi Ye Estes, Defendant-appellant, 166 F.3d 1218 (9th Cir. 1998)

United States v. Madden, No. 92-6206 (10th Cir. Apr. 20, 1993), WL 332262 Books and article

Moore, R. (2017). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. Macat Library.

United States Congress. (1994). Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Public law, (103-322).


The Establishment. (2016, April 12). About That Controversial 1994 Crime Bill. A Medium Corporation. Retrieved from

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