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  • Candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019.

    Candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 August 2019
Opinion

"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. Now, Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president."

U.S. congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard blasted her opponent Senator Kamala Harris at the Democratic presidential debates over her record as a prosecutor.

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During the second night of the Democrat debates in Detroit, House Representative Gabbard said that Harris owed an apology to the people who "suffered under your reign," pointing out that the Senator from California had failed to reform a broken system. 

"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. Now, Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that 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 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana," Gabbard said. 

Gabbard continued by highlighting the fact that Harris refused to pardon an innocent man from death row until she was forced to by the higher courts.

"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 a cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way," the congresswoman from Hawaii said. 

In response to the criticism, Harris stated that she significantly reformed the criminal justice system in California, a state which is home to more than 40 million people. 

"As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done. And I am proud of that work. And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and 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. That is why we created initiatives that were about re-entering former offenders and getting them counseling. It’s why, and because I know the criminal justice system is so broken, it is why I’m an advocate for what we need to do to not only decriminalize but legalize marijuana in the United States," Harris responded. 

Gabbard fired back by saying, "the bottom line is, 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’s no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor — you owe them an apology."

The congresswoman from Hawaii received high praise for her performance at the Democratic debate on Wednesday, with some people even taking to social media to accuse tech giants like Twitter of purposely trying to block her popularity. 

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