Kamala Harris is running for President. Question? or exclamation mark!
Following her MLK Jr. day announcement she was met with equal applause and criticism. Most notably the New York Times responded with dissatisfaction, publishing a dissenting op-ed from Lara Bazelon, a law professor from Loyola Law School. The op-ed was titled, Kamala Harris Was Not Progressive Prosecutor.
Bazelon writes that regarding opportunities to make crucial criminal justice reforms in California as San Francisco’s district attorney and California attorney general, Harris consistently stood on the wrong side of history.
Bazelon gets more specific with the Congresswoman’s record reporting that Harris withheld information about a police lab technician who was accused of sabotaging her work to aid in the convictions for nearly 600 innocent people. In 2010 it was determined that Harris was aware of evidence proving intentional sabotage but she failed to share this information with defense attorneys and the judge. Detail about the police lab scandal can be found here:
Bazelon continues to critique Harris for supporting California state legislation to prosecute parents of truant elementary school children despite her awareness that such demographic centered prosecutions are criminalizing poverty.
In 2014 a federal judge ruled the death penalty unconstitutional of which Harris appealed the death penalty arguing that 740 men and women on death row deserved to die regardless of historical inequalities in arrests and discriminate prosecutions.
As grassroots organization took the lead with proposition 47 to reduce categories of non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, Harris refused to take a position, remaining silent where her voice could have easily brought swift justice for an already overcrowded California state prison system. As the rest of the nation began to hold serious discourse regarding marijuana legislation Harris laughed at the matter, mocking the unequal targeting and arrest of black men, only changing her opinion to match the sentiment of 2018 public opinion.
Bazelon goes on to note the following:
- 2015, opposed a bill requiring investigation for police shootings
- Refusing the regulation of statewide body cameras
- Atrocious record of wrongful conviction cases
- George Gage
- Daniel Larsen
- Johnny Baca
- Kevin Cooper
Nonetheless, Bazelon is fair. She credits Harris for creating the Back on Track program allowing non-violent re-offenders access to resources proven to lower recidivism such as cognitive behavior therapy, education and housing.
Following Bazelon’s op-ed public reaction was controversial. Harris supporters jumped to her defense quickly rattling a list of her accomplishments as Congresswoman but the question remains,
Can a prosecutor be progressive?
How can one acknowledge the distinct flaws of the Prison industrial complex, the evidence based discrimination of black and brown young men, the unchecked and callous power of prosecutors, the increasingly elongated and arguably unconstitutional nature of post release surveillance? How can one acknowledge all of the shortcomings of our criminal justice system then assert than a prosecutor can be progressive?
Perhaps a prosecutor can be? Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby used her platform to hold the officers accountable for Freddie Gray’s murder. The Harvard Law review reflects on the recent phenomenon of progressive DA’s by publishing the paradox of the “Progressive Prosecutor.”
The Harvard Law publication concludes by writing that there is no such thing as the progressive prosecutor and that “such reforms attempt to fix broken systems without realizing that these systems are “working to re-entrench and legitimize current power arrangement.”
As the next presidential election cycle gears up, do you want criminal justice revolution or simply criminal justice reform?
At 33 days, America is experiencing its longest government shutdown in history. Nearly 800,000 federal employees are furloughed without pay of which nearly 400,000 workers are being forced to report to work without pay. Under the unwise leadership of President Donald Trump, Congresswoman Kamala Harris may seem like the lesser of two evils but we must ask ourselves, “is she really the best we can do?”
Eager for more diverse representation we must ask ourselves, “has she truly represented the rights of diverse persons?”
In heated response to the NYT article Vox.com ran a pro Kamala Harris article reporting on her speech at her alma matter, Howard University.
A young black female student voiced her support, She’s evolved.
Why is evolution a privilege of the elite whereas there are hundreds of men convicted by Harris still haunted by their choices unlike Harris who was never held accountable for her unlawful decision to withhold evidence. We have to stop with the discriminant forgiveness and hold everyone equally accountable to their past while equally granting everyone clemency for their future.
In conclusion, does she get my vote,
If I’m forced between two characters with an equally malicious past and I must gamble on the trajectories of their futures does she then get my vote…