I don’t know if it will make any difference in the polling, but U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, absolutely clobbered U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on her record as a prosecutor during the second night of CNN’s Democratic Presidential Debates in Detroit.
Before her election to the United States Senate, Harris served as Attorney General of California, as District Attorney for San Francisco before that, and as a county attorney before that.
Gabbard’s attack on her record was brutal.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Gabbard about her defense of former Vice President Joe Biden after Harris attacked him during the first debate.
“I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today,” Gabbard replied.
“Now Senator Harris she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and she’ll be a prosecutor-president, but I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” she stated.
“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep the cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way,” Gabbard added.
“As the elected Attorney General of I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of the state of 40 million people which became a national model for the work that needs to be done. I am proud of that work and I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in the legislative body and just give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform,” Harris countered.
“That is why we created initiatives that about reentering former offenders and getting them counseling. It is why I know that the criminal justice system is so broken that I am an advocate of what we need to do decriminalize, but legalize marijuana in the United States,” she added.
It’s interesting to note that Harris did not attempt to refute Gabbard’s claim about withholding evidence in death row cases which is far worse than marijuana prosecutions or her opposition to eliminating the cash bail system which does disproportionately impact minorities, in particular, those who have lower incomes.
In the case of the death row inmate, Harris couldn’t because it was true as The Sacramento Bee reported in their fact check of the claim.
Harris also could not refute opposing the repeal of cash bail because as a prosecutor she supported raising it.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason Magazine pointed out that she also ramped up penalties and prosecution of drug crimes, prostitution, truancy, and other misdemeanor offenses. Which is an unusual record for someone who says they champion criminal justice reform.
Tapper allowed Gabbard the opportunity to respond.
“The bottom line Senator when you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not. And, worse yet, in the case of those who are on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so. There is no excuse for that and people who suffered under your reign as , you owe them an apology,” Gabbard said.