Criminal justice record debate
During a Democratic presidential debate in August 2019, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii took aim at Harris, saying she was “deeply concerned” about Harris’ track record as a prosecutor.
“There are too many examples to cite, but she 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 said.
“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.”
Harris responded, saying that when she was attorney general of California, she “did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”
“I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform,” Harris said.
She then went on to state her support for legalizing marijuana and responded to Gabbard's assertion that she owed an apology to all those she wronged while attorney general.
“I think you can judge people by when they are under fire and it's not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they're in the position to actually make a decision, what do they do,” Harris said.