NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for an overhaul to the nation's criminal justice system Wednesday in reaction to protests in Baltimore, potentially undoing the very policies her husband put in place during his presidency.
Speaking on specific policy positions for the first time since she announced her campaign, Clinton said there are too many overcrowded prisons and too many black men "missing" from their families.
"We need to restore balance to our criminal justice system," she said in a speech at Columbia University in New York, calling for an "end to the era of mass incarceration."
"From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable," she said.
Clinton's stance on prison overpopulation flies in the face of legislation her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed into law in 2014. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act added 50 new federal offenses and is considered the largest crime bill in the history of the United States.
It's also been blamed for overcrowded prisons in the years since it was signed, incarcerating too many drug and other non-violent offenders. Even Bill Clinton has since admitted the bill was a mistake.
"We basically took a shotgun to a problem that needed a .22 -- a very significant percentage of serious crimes in this country are committed by a very small number," he said in November at a Little Rock, Ark., gathering to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the bill. "We took a shotgun to it and just sent everybody to jail for too long."
Hillary Clinton said there's a disproportionate number of black men arrested and incarcerated.
"Not only as a mother and grandmother, but as a citizen, as a human being, my heart breaks for these young men and their families," she said. "We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America."
"We need smart strategies to fight crime that help restore trust between law enforcement and our communities, especially communities of color," she added.