That past needs scrutiny, especially since Harris has refused to acknowledge there was anything wrong with it.
"As the top law enforcement official" of San Francisco and then California, the New York Times reported in a February news article, "she developed a reputation for caution, protecting the status quo and shrinking from decisions on contentious issues." Reporter Kate Zernike wrote:
** "Years before ending mass incarceration became a bipartisan cause, she started programs to steer low-level drug offenders away from prison and into school and jobs. At the same time, she touted her success in increasing conviction rates, and as attorney general remained largely on the sidelines as California scrambled to meet a federal court order to reduce its swollen prison populations. She also repeatedly sided with prosecutors accused of misconduct, challenging judges who ruled against them."
** When Harris first ran statewide, for California attorney general in 2010, "she had campaigned to the right of her Republican opponent on the question of easing the state's tough three-strikes law. Once in office, she declined to take positions on ultimately successful ballot initiatives intended to reduce prison populations -- one expanding opportunities for parole, the other reducing many nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors."
** "After the Supreme Court upheld the judges' overcrowding order, the state promised to 'promptly' release a significant number of nonviolent prisoners, giving credit for time served. A delay in meeting that promise drew a judicial scolding in 2014. The state's response proved embarrassing, and unsuccessful: Reducing the prison population, Ms. Harris's office maintained, would hurt California's ability to fight wildfires by shrinking the pool of forced labor."
** "Ms. Harris won praise for releasing statewide data in a way that informed rather than inflamed the brutality debate: It included numbers on the use of police force but also on use of force against officers. She instituted body cameras for police agents who worked in her office, and offered implicit-bias training for police statewide. But she declined to support statewide regulations for the use of body cameras, agreeing with local departments that they should set their own standards. And she did not support a bill that would have required the attorney general to investigate police shootings."
** Early in this decade, responding to the house foreclosure crisis, "the banks agreed to $18 billion in debt reduction that Ms. Harris said would allow California homeowners to stay in their homes, and the national agreement included $2.5 billion for a fund to provide educational counseling and other services for those in danger of foreclosure. But critics, especially on the left, have long said that the settlement was no grand bargain. It did not require banks to pay much out of pocket; $4.7 billion of the $18 billion in relief came from forgiving second mortgages, many of which the banks would have written off anyway because they were so severely underwater, and $9 billion came from homeowners selling their homes for less than the value of their mortgages, meaning that homeowners did not stay in their homes."
The New Republic recently summed up: "From her role in a California prison labor debate to her prosecutions of sex workers," Kamala Harris "has a past of her own to defend."