Kamala Harris Partners With An Unlikely Colleague To Work On Major Prison Reform

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When it comes to holding her Republican colleagues accountable and not allowing the “good ol’ boys'” network to bully her, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has definitely made a name for herself. Most recently, when questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Harris’ succinct line of questioning had Sessions on the ropes and stuttering to find the words to answer.

Per the usual, Harris’ articulate speech, confidence, and professionalism when addressing Sessions caused some to quickly label her as an “angry black woman.” Undeterred, Harris has pushed forward with representing the best interest of the people she has been elected to serve as her paramount objective. With that in mind, and serving as a further display of just how dedicated she is to public service, Harris is taking a remarkable step across the aisle to partner with a member of very brotherhood that has iced her out, disrespected her, and often treated her as less than.

For the good of the people, Harris is collaborating with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Together, the pair is looking to engage in prison reform via a somewhat unconventional means — the bail process. On Thursday, the two introduced a bipartisan bill that will change or replace the bail system by way of a $10 million grant, over a three-year period.

Called the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, the legislation will provide incentives to states that implement “individualized, pretrial assessments with risk-based decision making.” According to Harris:

 ‘Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally. Yet more than 450,000 Americans sit in jail today awaiting trial and many of them cannot afford money bail. In our country, whether you stay in jail or not is wholly determined by whether you’re wealthy or not – and that’s wrong.’
The issue of bail reform has been brought back to life in recent years after the unfortunate suicide of wrongfully imprisoned Kalief Browder. At 16, Browder was arrested and jailed after being accused of stealing a backpack, but he was innocent. By the time charges were dropped and he was released, Browder had spent three years in jail because he couldn’t afford to make bail.
As a result of the trauma of being wrongfully incarcerated, shortly after he was discharged, Browder hanged himself.
If the legislation that Harris and Paul are co-sponsoring, passes, perhaps Browder’s death won’t be in vain and many other low-income individuals who are incarcerated for low-level offenses, will have some reprieve. With that in mind, income and access to connections are the angle from which Paul is approaching his support of the legislation. Paul said:
‘Americans should be able to expect fair and equal treatment under the law regardless of how much money is in their pockets or how many connections they have.’
Harris hasn’t exactly been given a warm and fuzzy welcome by her GOP colleagues. There are several instances of heated exchanges during various hearings whereby many critics made it clear that Harris wouldn’t have gotten the cold shoulder she received if she wasn’t a woman, especially one with brown skin. Maybe collaborating with Rand Paul will encourage Harris’ peers to respect her as an equal.
Featured Image via Getty/Kimberly White/Stringer