Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, may put a damper on the Democrat’s outreach to minorities, particularly African Americans, because of his tough-on-crime stance that drove up prison populations in the U.S.
Project Exile, now defunct, was backed by Kaine and was such an unusual policy that it was embraced by both Republicans and Democrats, and by top gun-control and gun lobby groups. However, the program, launched in 1997, was scrutinized for a racially biased initiative that led to extended prison terms for young African American men.
Clinton has come under fire as well for her support of tough-on-crime policies that led to a surge in the U.S. prison population. The policies from the 1990s also increased tensions between the African American community and law enforcement officials.
Kaine was an avid supporter of Project Exile, which he says reduced Richmond, Virginia’s crime rate. Project Exile made illegal gun possession a federal offence, which meant prosecutors could send convicted felons to a federal penitentiary for a minimum of five years.
“Project Exile broke black families,” said Nicole Lee, an activist and civil-rights lawyer in Washington, D.C. “These measures were not used against white kids in the suburbs with guns, they were used against black kids in the cities.”
To defeat Trump in the presidential election, Clinton needs the support of African American and other minority voters. Kaine’s history may prevent the high turnout rate Clinton needs to earn the presidential seat.