Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Kamala Harris drew a lot of attention on the Democratic debate stage, with several breakout moments leading to surging interest about her. But one topic Harris didn't confront during the debate is her record on criminal justice that has led some critics, contrary to the progressive reputation that Harris has tried to build, to describe her not as a reformer but as a relic of a "tough on crime" era going back to the 1990s and 2000s. A generation after Democrats embraced "tough on crime" policies that swelled prison populations, progressive activists are pushing to make the criminal justice system less punitive and racist. Harris argues that her views align with the new progressive movement. But her record in California, where she was a prosecutor, district attorney, and state attorney general before representing the state in the US Senate, is likely to come in for harsh scrutiny in the coming months.
Harris argues that she's fought to reverse incarceration, scale back the war on drugs, and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system. But as her star has risen nationally -- she's had several viral moments questioning President Donald Trump's nominees in the Senate -- those more familiar with her criminal justice record, particularly on the left, have increasingly voiced their skepticism.
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