In advance of the third Democratic candidates’ debate on Thursday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has issued a proposal to overhaul the criminal justice system, including ending federal mandatory minimum sentences and pushing states to do the same, ending the death penalty and solitary confinement, and phasing out for-profit prisons and cash bail, Politico reports. Harris’ plan would also end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine that reformers believe is racially biased, and legalize marijuana at the federal level. Several of the Democratic presidential candidate’s proposals issued Monday draw from her initiatives as a district attorney and as attorney general of California, including a federal prison reentry education program designed to reduce recidivism, and creation of a federal Bureau of Children and Family Justice that would focus on civil rights in the child welfare, education and juvenile justice systems.
Harris’ plan precedes the third Democratic debate, on Thursday, which comes after Harris spent the summer backsliding in polls. Her proposal comes amid persistent questions about Harris’ mixed record on the subject. Critics contend she played it safe when she was California’s top legal officer, rather than advocating for the kind of aggressive reforms she backs today.