Kamala Harris for the People
September 9, 2019

Kamala Harris to End Mandatory Minimums, Ensure Prosecutor and Police Accountability, Promote Public Safety As Part of Comprehensive Vision for Overhauling Criminal Justice System

Senator Kamala Harris will end mandatory minimum sentences, remove profit from the justice system, and enact key accountability reforms, including a strong progressive national use of force standard for police, as part of a comprehensive plan to overhaul the criminal justice system and promote public safety that she is outlining today. Harris has unique perspective and experience in her career that will allow her to lead successful reform efforts and expand support for reform as president.

“Americans deserve a criminal justice system that focuses on fairness,  rehabilitation, and accountability to build trust and safe communities,” said Harris. “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. This plan uses my experience and unique capability to root out failures within the justice system. We can end mass incarceration and combat the bias and racism that fuels it. We can ensure accountability for all parts of the system to build foundations of trust in our communities. We can stop profit from incarceration and stop criminalizing poverty. As president I’ll fix this broken system to make it fairer and more accountable for communities across the country.”

Harris’ platform puts ending mass incarceration, shifting to crime reduction, and building safe and healthy communities at the center. The plan completely ends mandatory minimum sentencing at the federal level and incentivizes states to do the same, while ending the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity.  Harris would also end the use of private prisons and mandate federal prisons provide educational and vocational training, and mental health and addiction treatment. She would legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge convictions, and end the federal bans that exist to prevent formerly-incarcerated individuals from accessing public housing, loans, nutrition assistance and other public services. These proposals will help make our system fairer and give Americans who have served their time more opportunity to get back on track and live healthy lives.

The campaign also plans to release on its social media platforms a video of a longform conversation on justice issues that Harris had in New York last week with experts and advocates. Participants included Phil Goff, co-founder and president of Center for Policing Equity; social justice advocate Jamira Burley; Angela Rye, Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus; and D. Watkins, Editor at Large at Salon.

Harris’ platform also prioritizes reforms to build trust and accountability for law enforcement, so they can serve communities. Her platform calls for the establishment of a national standard for use of deadly force to only when necessary and when no reasonable alternatives are available, and creates a National Police Systems Review Board to collect data on police shootings and cases of severe misconduct and implement evidence-based safety standards. She would dedicate federal resources to incentivize state agencies to conduct independent investigations of officer-involved shootings, and she would provide explicit authority to the Justice Department to conduct pattern-and-practice investigations of prosecutorial offices that commit systematic misconduct. 

Harris’ platform also commits to increasing federal funds to address the physical and mental health and safety of police officers. Further, her platform ends money bail, ends the death penalty, ends solitary confinement, commits to clear the nationwide rape kit backlog in her first term, and protects consumers from fraud by doubling Justice Department resources to address corporate crimes. It also seeks to replicate and nationalize successful programs and policies she implemented as District Attorney and California Attorney General like the pioneering re-entry program “Back on Track,” the Bureau of Children and Family Justice which prioritized children’s civil rights within the justice system, and OpenJustice which expands data collection and use on law enforcement activities. 

The platform draws from her career as a line prosecutor, San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General to implement key reforms and expand initiatives that made the system fairer. As D.A. in 2005, Harris implemented the first-of-its-kind “Back on Track” program to divert young people arrested for first-time drug offenses into job training, refrained from seeking life sentences for criminals who committed non-violent “third strikes,” and refused to seek the death penalty. She also prioritized investigating cold cases of Black and brown children who had been killed and unjustly forgotten by law enforcement and made the D.A.’s office reflect the community it served by hiring more women, LGBTQ people, and staff of color. As Attorney General, she increased transparency by collecting and publishing data on in-custody deaths and police shootings, instituted a first-of-its-kind statewide training on implicit bias and procedural justice, made the California Department of Justice the first statewide agency in the country to mandate officers wear body cameras, and launched pattern-and-practice investigations into law enforcement agencies.

Read her full criminal justice reform platform here