33 Harv. J. on Legis. 527 (1996)
The Politics of Crime

handle is hein.journals/hjl33 and id is 533 raw text is: ESSAY
THE POLITICS OF CRIME
HARRY A. CHERNOFF*
CHRISTOPHER M. KELLY**
JOHN R. KROGER***
This Essay examines the passage of and subsequent assault on, the
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. After surveying
the ongoing partisan battle to control the crime issue, the authors
detail the events surrounding the passage of the Act. Having been part of
the Clinton administration, the authors are able to offer the reader a
behind the scenes glance at President Clinton's action, or inaction,
during this debate. In addition, the authors discuss the political tensions
caused by particular sections in the Act, including the assault weapons
ban and the Racial Justice provision. Finally, the authors suggest six
basic lessons about the impact and importance of crime in American
politics.
I. AN INTRODUCTION TO CRIME AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the President and Congress
have faced constant public pressure to address the problem of
crime.' The most recent legislative response to this pressure was
the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,
which allocated over $30 billion to fight crime on our nation's
*Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Charles Schumer, 1991-1992; N.Y.C.
Urban Fellow, Office of Mayor Dinkins, 1989-1990. A.B., Harvard College, 1989; J.D.,
Harvard Law School, 1996.
-Special Assistant, U.S. Department of Education, 1993-1994; Policy Analyst,
White House Domestic Policy Council, 1993; Policy Analyst, Clinton Presidential
Transition, 1992-1993; Policy Analyst, Clinton-Gore 1992; B.A., Georgetown Univer-
sity, 1991; M.A., Yale University, 1992; member, Class of 1997, Harvard Law School.
-Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. Treasury, 1993; Director, Task Force on Reinventing
Government, Clinton Presidential Transition, 1992-1993; Deputy Policy Director,
Clinton for President, 1991-1992; Legislative Assistant to Speaker of the House
Thomas Foley, 1991; Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Charles Schumer,
1990-1991; B.A., Yale College, 1990; M.A., Yale University, 1990; J.D., Harvard Law
School, 1996.
Much of the information contained in this Essay is a result of the authors' personal
experiences during the events surrounding the passage of the Violent Crime Control
and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
'As the Washington Post noted in 1992, In good times and bad, Americans rate
crime among their top five concerns. Senators and House members long ago began
reading the polls, and since 1980 anticrime legislation has been passed by every
Congress. Guy Gugliotta, Crime Bill a Hostage of Politics, WASH. POST, Aug. 5, 1992,
at Al. Since 1973, over 65% of Americans have consistently believed that the nation
should spend more money to halt the rising crime rate. BEN WATTENBERG, VALUES
MATTER MOST, 119, 124 (1995) (graphing National Opinion Research Poll).

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