How Kamala Harris Shifted Positions on Criminal Justice

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California Sen. Kamala Harris’ positions on several criminal justice issues have evolved since she was district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general of California, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Moderator Linsey Davis pointed out in Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate that Harris’ new criminal justice proposal contradicts some of her prior positions. “Among them,” Davis said, “you used to oppose the legalization of marijuana, now you don’t.” Davis also said Harris “used to oppose the outside investigation of police shootings, now you don’t.” The reality is more nuanced. Harris did not support a California bill that would have required an independent investigation after any use of fatal force by police. She declined to take a position and expressed concerns about taking away authority from local prosecutors.

Harris did not directly respond to Davis’ claims. Instead, she pointed out that she created an “initiative that…became a national model around people who were arrested for drugs and giving them jobs,” and added that she created “one of the first in the nation trainings for police officers on the issue of racial bias.” Harris said she created one of the first-in-the-nation requirements that a state law enforcement agency would have to wear cameras and keep them on full time.” However, those agents represent just a small portion of the law enforcement officers in the state, the majority of which are overseen by cities and counties. Harris opposed statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers in 2015, as it was being debated in California’s legislature.

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