Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released on Monday an extensive criminal justice reform plan, setting her eyes on overhauling the system completely—from ending mandatory minimum sentences, ending cash bail, and getting rid of the death penalty on a federal level, to supporting a national use of deadly force standard for police.
“Americans deserve a criminal justice system that focuses on fairness, rehabilitation, and accountability to build trust and safe communities,” Harris said in a press release. “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.”
If elected, Harris intends to work with Congress and use her executive authority to exact change on a federal level, while also investigating state and local actors through the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. She also intends to incentivize states to end mandatory minimum sentences, as well as to conduct their own independent investigations of officer-involved shootings.
The wide-sweeping plan seeks to end mass incarceration, starting with ending the “War on Drugs,” and more specifically legalizing marijuana on the federal level and expunging convictions.
She also seeks to end the disparity in sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
In addition to ending mandatory minimum sentencing at the federal level and incentivizing states to do the same, Harris also seeks to invest money to reduce the incarceration of women who are convicted of non-violent offenses.
The plan extends to prisons by ending the death penalty, stating that the senator believes that capital punishment is “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
It will also end solitary confinement and instead “ensure alternative therapeutic and rehabilitative mechanisms are available to protect the safety of individuals in prison and of prison staff,” the breakdown of the plan notes.
Harris also wants to end the profit that is made through incarceration by targeting prisons that charge prisoners “exorbitant” rates for “telecommunications and commissary/food and supplies in prison.”
Another important part of the plan is to “Help Children Thrive” by addressing the issues in the juvenile system. More specifically, Harris intends to create a Bureau of Children and Family Justice to focus on children’s civil rights in child welfare, education and juvenile justice systems.
Starting in the schools, Harris wants to encourage states to stop pursuing criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior.
From there, the senator is intent on ending life sentences for children, ending the solitary confinement of children, and ending the transfer of children to adult prisons.
She also seeks to invest money on a state and local level to end juvenile incarceration altogether, and instead focus on restorative justice programs, except for the most serious of cases.
“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,” she added. “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.”