Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, senator Kamala Harris, are ramping up their efforts to grow the campaign’s advertising program. The team announced the details of their latest initiative in a statement to Blavity, saying they will launch new ads in Georgia, a key battleground expansion state.
"The campaign is debuting new ads in Georgia on television and digital [platforms] featuring its 'Shop Talk' series, a national program that facilitates roundtable discussions on the challenges impacting Black men in America, and will be geared towards African American voters in the Peach State," Biden's team said.
As part of the "Shop Talk" series, the campaign's newest ad in Georgia will focus on criminal justice reform. The 60 and 30-second clips will bring together a group of Black men in a barbershop to discuss criminal justice issues and detail Biden’s plan for reforming the system.
"When it comes to criminal justice reform, history has not been on our side," one man said in the ad. "I feel as though the nation has become desensitized to these things, but Black people have not. It's true pain. It's a real loss when people die."
One of the men noted the issue of having too many people in the justice system that are not criminals.
"How many people are in jail just because they couldn't afford that $400 court fee?" he said.
Others pointed to the difficulty of getting jobs with criminal records, as well as the need to end private prisons and the call for cash bail reform.
A 2017 study by the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality highlights the longstanding racial inequity tainting the U.S. criminal justice system. According to the report, Black men between the ages of 20-34 were imprisoned at more than five times the rate of young white men in 2015. The study also concludes that 10% of Black children had a parent behind bars in 2015, compared to 3.6% of Hispanic children and 1.7% of white children.
With Black people being more likely to face criminal charges, they also have a greater chance of being barred from getting jobs. According to the Harvard Business Review, 5% of Black Americans with criminal records get called back after a job interview, compared to 17% of whites.
Advocates for criminal justice reform support the "Ban the Box" policy which prevents employers from automatically rejecting people with criminal records, the Harvard Business Review reported. Pushing for fair chance hiring, advocates said people with criminal records are less likely to quit and be fired than people without records.
Despite the disparity which still persists, studies show that the gap between white and Black incarceration rates has decreased in recent years. According to The Washington Post, the imprisonment rate of Black men dropped by more than 24% between the years 2000 and 2015, while the number for white males increased slightly.
For women, the Black female imprisonment rate dropped by almost 50% during the same period, while the white female rate increased by 53%.
“But the racial disparity remains so vast that it’s pretty hard to celebrate," John Pfaff, an expert on trends in prison statistics, told The Washington Post. "How exactly do you talk about ‘less horrific?’”
The Biden-Harris team will also release their “Shop Talk: Yes She Can” ad in Georgia, which highlights the story of the senator who became the first Black woman on a presidential election ticket.
In addition, the team will broadcast their previously released ads, “We Are Listening” and “He Knew.”
Biden plans to spend more than $65 million on ads for the second straight week as the focus shifts to Georgia. The campaign will then proceed to Iowa, where it will release ads highlighting Biden’s leadership experience, plans to beat COVID-19, strengthen the economy and unify the country.
“'Be Not Afraid,' 'Defend' and 'Personal' are examples of ads that will be airing in key Iowa media markets and on digital platforms in the Hawkeye State," the campaign stated.
The Biden-Harris team is pushing their ads in a dozen battleground states including: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Nebraska and Minnesota.