Harris says she would pardon prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes

Harris says she would pardon prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes
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Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Krystal Ball: Media turns on Buttigieg, will this end him? Senate Democrats demand Trump fire Stephen Miller MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she would pardon federal prisoners who are behind bars for drug possession and other drug-related crimes should she win the 2020 presidential race.

Harris was asked at the She The People presidential forum in Houston if she would exercise her pardon powers on a broader basis compared to past administrations to overturn convictions of those incarcerated for strictly substance-related offenses.

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“We certainly have seen this president do nothing about it except try to pardon his friends, so let’s start there,” Harris started, alluding to several pardons President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE has granted to political allies.

“But absolutely, and we have to have the courage to recognize that there are a lot of folks who have been incarcerated who should not have been incarcerated and are still in prison because in large part … they were convicted under draconian laws that have incarcerated them for, in some cases, a lifetime based on what is essentially a public health issue. So yes, I would.”

The Hill has reached out to Harris's campaign for further comment.

Harris has voiced support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level and expunging nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from criminal records.

Racial inequity in the criminal justice system has become a hot-button issue in the Democratic presidential primary, with several candidates pointing to disparities in drug arrests as evidence that marijuana laws and other statutes should change.

Harris’s past as a San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general has come under scrutiny as the Democratic Party’s progressive base expresses increased skepticism of the current judicial system, with many pointing to her opposition to 2010 legislation that would have legalized marijuana in California and support for a bill that would have allowed her to prosecute parents of habitually truant students. 

The California Democrat has centered much of her presidential campaign around social justice issues and other progressive priorities, including addressing racial and income inequities across the country, enacting gun control reform and implementing "Medicare for All."