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Democratic senator Kamala Harris has announced that she is throwing her hat in the ring to run for president in 2020 — so now is as good a time as any to remind everyone of her terrible record on criminal justice.
Thankfully, criminal-justice reform has become a bit of a popular issue these days among both Democrats and Republicans. This has allowed for some steps in the right direction toward fixing our unnecessarily punitive justice system, such as the passage of the FIRST STEP Act. As a civil libertarian, it’s my opinion that we still have a long way to go — and putting Kamala Harris in the White House would not be a step in the right direction.
Although Harris seems to have a pretty good reputation among most liberals, her record on criminal justice issues is a dismal one. As a recent piece from Lara Bazelon in the New York Times details, Harris was far from the “progressive prosecutor” that she has tried to rebrand herself as in recent days.
For example: When Harris was San Francisco’s district attorney in 2010, she was condemned by a judge for staying silent about a police laboratory technician who had been accused of stealing drugs and “intentionally sabotaging” her work. She could have and should have warned defense lawyers about this technician’s wrongdoings, but she chose not to — and even went so far as to contest the condemnation, claiming that the judge had done so only out of bias because her husband was a defense attorney. Harris eventually lost this argument, and more than 600 cases that had been handled by the technician were tossed out.
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