Biden says nonviolent criminals shouldn't go to jail, drawing ridicule

Former Vice President Joe Biden drew instant ridicule for making a stunning argument during Thursday night's debate that "nonviolent" criminals should not be jailed -- an assertion his campaign later had to walk back.

The apparent gaffe happened during a heated discussion about criminal justice reform.

Biden claimed that too many individuals are in prison and the system requires change. Then he made a bold proclamation.

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“Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime,” Biden said.

Social media was soon buzzing over his statement, with commenters focusing on the implications that would have for white-collar criminals.

Some were quick to point out what this would mean for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is in prison for a variety of white-collar offenses.

Others focused on notorious Ponzi scheme orchestrator Bernie Madoff and “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, to name a few offenders who'd be affected by such a policy.

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National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar predicted that the Biden camp would not stand by this statement.

As it turns out, Kraushaar was right. A Biden aide soon told Daily Beast reporter Sam Stein that Biden “was talking about nonviolent drug offenses.”

Biden was among 10 Democratic candidates participating in the ABC News-sponsored debate in Houston.