There’s a saying about accepting an apology that may never come in order to find peace. I’ve done that, accepting invisible apologies for a long time, from ex-boyfriends, from old friends who I felt wronged me—and from the politicians responsible for the infamous 1994 crime bill and the crime laws that preceded it.
Specifically, I had accepted that non-existent apology from Joe Biden, who authored the bill that President Bill Clinton signed and that led to my favorite uncle’s life sentence.
I knew Biden, who boasted when he was running for president in 2007 about the “Biden crime bill,” has expressed regret more recently over the bill’s impact on mass incarceration, and his 1980s votes for harsh mandatory drug sentences. I also knew he was vice president under the Obama administration—the same administration that commuted my uncle’s sentence in January of 2017, weeks before Donald Trump was sworn in as president. That means that instead of life, he will be eligible for early release in January of 2022, after 17 years of imprisonment.