Harris unveils criminal justice plan that would end executions, cash bail

Harris unveils criminal justice plan that would end executions, cash bail

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll Iowa GOP swipes at 2020 Democrats' meat positions as candidates attend annual Steak Fry Warren avoids attacks while building momentum MORE (D-Calif.), a 2020 White House hopeful, would end mandatory minimum sentencing, the death penalty and cash bail in an effort to create a criminal justice system focused on fairness and building safe communities, based on a plan released Monday. 

Harris aims to end mass incarceration by shifting to a "crime reduction" policy that the campaign said puts "building safe and healthy communities at the center."

Her reform plan calls for ending mandatory minimum sentencing at the federal level and incentivizes states to do the same. It also ends the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity that has disproportionately impacted black Americans for decades.

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Harris would also legalize marijuana at the federal level, as well as expunge those convictions, and would end federal bans preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance programs. 

She would also end money bail, the death penalty and solitary confinement, and commits to clearing the nationwide rape kit backlog in her first term in the Oval Office. 

Harris also said she would create a national Police Systems Review Board to collect data on police shootings and implement "evidence-based safety standards." 

Harris highlights her background as a prosecutor, district attorney and attorney general in discussing her reform plan. 

"My entire career has been spent making needed reforms and fighting for those who too often are voiceless -- from young people arrested for the first time and getting them jobs instead of jail, to grieving Black mothers who wanted justice for their child’s murder as the system ignored their pain," she said in a statement. "This plan uses my experience and unique capability to root out failures within the justice system."

Along with the plan, Harris's campaign released a 30-minute video of a conversation she recently had with experts and advocates on the nation's criminal justice system. 

She is one of 10 Democrats to appear in the third presidential primary debate Thursday in Texas. 

Harris has defended her background as a “progressive prosecutor,” but critics have attacked her record.

During the second Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardAnalysis: 2020 digital spending vastly outpaces TV ads Sanders searches for answers amid Warren steamroller Kavanaugh book author on impeachment calls: 'That's not our determination to make' MORE (D-Hawaii) said she was “deeply concerned” about Harris’s prosecutorial record, saying Harris “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, however, appeared to refer to the number of Californians sent to state prisons for marijuana-related offenses while Harris served as the attorney general. The attorney general’s office doesn‘t directly prosecute the majority of drug cases in the state, according to The Mercury News’s fact-check of the debate.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUkrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' Warren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll MORE during the same debate also highlighted his career as a defense attorney in contrast to Harris's background.

— This report was updated at 8:36 a.m.