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Kamala Harris unveils plan to overhaul criminal justice system

Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Monday unveiled a plan to overhaul the criminal justice system in the U.S., including an end to federal mandatory minimum sentences, legalization of marijuana at the federal level and tighter restrictions for when police are allowed to use deadly force.

“Americans deserve a criminal justice system that focuses on fairness, rehabilitation and accountability to build trust and safe communities,” said Ms. Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate. “As president, I’ll fix this broken system to make it fairer and more accountable for communities across the country.”

Ms. Harris, California Democrat, would seek to end federal mandatory minimum sentences and incentivize states to do so as well.

She would also end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine — a crime policy once championed by 2020 rival Joseph R. Biden that President Barack Obama sought to reverse.

Mr. Biden has also come under fire during the campaign over his support for a 1994 crime bill that critics say led to the mass incarceration of people of color.



Ms. Harris’ plan also includes legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge past marijuana-related convictions, and tax marijuana products, with the money going toward programs to people most adversely affected by the “War on Drugs.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, had gone after Ms. Harris in the July presidential debate for the senator’s record as a prosecutor, particularly when it came to putting people behind bars for marijuana-related offenses.

Ms. Harris would also seek to end the use of private prisons and detention centers for illegal immigrants, invest more money in rehabilitation services for ex-convicts and end cash bail.

Ms. Harris, a former California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco, would support a national standard that says law enforcement should only use deadly force when “necessary” and when “no reasonable alternatives” are available.

She would also reverse President Trump’s moves to allow the federal government to distribute military-grade equipment to local police departments.

Ms. Harris would also seek to end the death penalty and solitary confinement.

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