Updated: Dec 15, 2020
By Jomar Rodriguez
Image via PBS
President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have finally been declared the winners of the 2020 United States election. Although this is great news, Joe Biden and especially Kamala Harris have had a rocky record with criminal justice in the United States. Joe Biden authoring “An Act to Control and Prevent Crime” aka 1994 Crime bill which according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, led to the population in federal prisons jumping from approximately 600,000 in 1990 to 1,300,000 in 1998. However, he later went back on his own bill when he saw it was doing more harm than good. Now Harris' history is far more questionable.
Kamala Harris' History
Kamala Harris, unlike Joe Biden, is more proud of her criminal justice record. This is evident when Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. Representative stated that “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” this being in reference to an interview Harris did with The Breakfast Club. This statement holds up as there was a noticeable spike in marijuana-related convictions when she was DA in marijuana-related convictions in her time as district attorney of San Francisco. Furthermore, she has historically been a supporter of anti-legalization of marijuana as she wrote against prop 19, a bill that would have legalized marijuana at the state level in California. In addition, Harris also fought to block a bill in November of 2014 that would allow non-violent prisoners from being released early in order to use them for cheap labor, although thankfully her efforts were stopped by a panel of federal judges. Finally, although she has taken responsibility for blocking gender reaffirming surgery for trans inmates, she has not taken responsibility for putting trans women in men’s prison.
What Can They Do To Contribute To Change
Both Harris and Biden must take accountability for their past. Whether it be defunding the police or investing more money into the police for things to change, we need prison reform. We need to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment and invest more money into low-income neighborhoods in order to prevent crime. We must also have to end or lower prison time for drug-related crimes as each costs 31,000 to keep each prisoner. This being money that can be used for rehabilitation or put into lower-income communities.
Written by writer Jomar Rodriguez