Kamala Harris’ shifting stance on hard cash bail: Aid as DA, opposition as politician

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Vice President Kamala Harris’ stance on money bail has shifted through her job – from supporting the plan as a law enforcement formal in California to calling for sweeping reforms to the program as a U.S. senator, presidential candidate and now vice president.

The matter of income bail insurance policies has appear into the spotlight this week right after 39-calendar year-old Darrell Brooks Jr. allegedly plowed through a crowd of harmless men and women attending a Xmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing 6 people, like an 8-12 months-previous boy, and injuring dozens a lot more.


Brooks experienced an comprehensive criminal background dating back again to 1999, which includes multiple felonies. A convicted sex offender, Brooks made bail twice in Wisconsin this calendar year – inspite of getting an lively warrant for jumping bail on a sex criminal offense demand in Nevada.

Previously this month, Milwaukee prosecutors asked for just $1,000 bail for Brooks soon after he was arrested and charged for punching his girlfriend in the face and then running her more than with his vehicle in a gas station parking good deal. Prosecutors now confess that bail was “inappropriately lower.”

Brooks’ felony record ranges from various firearms and battery convictions and strangulation to sex offenses and drug expenses on a 50-web site rap sheet that spans a few states. 

But critics are slamming makes an attempt at criminal bail reform that put violent offenders like Brooks out on the road at lower, or no cost, warning that the process is endangering communities close to the region.

Harris invested seven years as district attorney for San Francisco and 6 several years as the California lawyer general – the 1st Black lady to keep that position.

And though her posture on the make a difference has progressed from a stringent stance to supporting the abolishment of dollars bail, in the course of her time as a prosecutor Harris supported bail and even identified as for larger bail quantities on gun-linked fees. Harris’ place of work also defended the dollars bail program.

Bail cash is primarily collateral to guarantee a human being displays up for long term courtroom dates. If a individual pays bail, then seems for their courtroom dates, that income is refunded. 

In advance of signing up for the Senate, Harris submitted a movement in a circumstance challenging the application of California’s money bail legislation, saying the method deserved “intensive scrutiny.” She did, although, ask the decide to toss that situation, saying the state legislation ended up constitutional even if the way in which some counties made use of the regulations were not.

“The bail technique at issue below does not categorically deny bail to any team of folks,” she wrote.

But as a senator, Harris’ place shifted – which critics have claimed was easy for political applications as she billed herself as a progressive lawmaker.

Harris, throughout her time in the Senate and on the 2020 campaign path, identified as for abolishing cash bail. She has argued that funds bail has an unbalanced impact on reduced-earnings defendants.

As a senator, back in July 2017, Harris joined GOP Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to introduce laws to press for changes or replacement of the cash bail system.

“Excessive bail disproportionately harms people today from minimal-earnings communities and communities of color,” Harris and Paul wrote in an op-ed in the New York Moments at the time. “Bail is supposed to make sure that the accused look at trial and do not dedicate other offenses in the meantime.”

The bill was established to empower states to give them the authority to ascertain no matter whether a defendant is a “flight danger or a threat to the public and ought to be held devoid of bail.” 

“As an alternative of the federal government mandating a 1-dimensions-fits-all approach, this bill gives Office of Justice grants straight to the states so every single can devise and have out the most powerful guidelines, tailored for its exceptional wants,” they wrote, incorporating that the bill “retains states accountable.”

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And again in February 2019, Harris yet again pushed to tackle bail reform throughout the country, saying it is “long previous time” to do so.

“Much too frequently, poor individuals sit in jail mainly because they don’t have the income to spend bail, while another person with the exact offense but money in their again pocket gets out,” Harris tweeted at the time. “This is a severe injustice.”

President Biden’s marketing campaign also was in favor of ending hard cash bail on the grounds that it is discriminatory towards those people who do not have the economical suggests to pay their bail.

“Hard cash bail is the present day-working day debtors’ prison,” the 2020 Biden campaign explained on its web-site. “The funds bail process incarcerates people today who are presumed harmless. And, it disproportionately harms low-cash flow folks. Biden will lead a nationwide effort and hard work to finish funds bail and reform our pretrial technique by putting in spot, alternatively, a method that is reasonable and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the approach.”


Past month, the White House released a 42-web page report entitled “Countrywide Technique on Gender Fairness and Equality,” which named for performing “to close money bail and reform our pretrial method.”

The White Home explained the elimination of hard cash bail is a single move governments can consider to battle gender and race disparities.

The phone calls to end income bail come as FBI knowledge reveals an unprecedented rise in violent crime, with numbers of murders in the U.S. rising by just about 30% in 2020 — symbolizing the biggest solitary-yr raise recorded since the FBI commenced monitoring the statistic.

Vice President Harris speaks throughout a press conference in Paris, Nov. 12, 2021. (Thomas Coex, Pool Image through AP)
(Thomas Coex, Pool Picture by way of AP)

The overall violent criminal offense charge, which also incorporates assault, robbery and rape, rose 5% in 2020 in comparison to 2019.


A letter from Biden and Harris bundled in the report past thirty day period argues that the reforms are needed to promote equality, saying that America has “never fully lived up to” the thought that “just about every a person of us is equivalent in dignity and justifies to be taken care of similarly.”

“This strategy outlines an formidable agenda for this administration and individuals to appear – a roadmap to assist our nation near pernicious gender gaps and propel us towards a earth with equal chance for all men and women,” the letter reads. “Making certain that all men and women have the chance to live up to their comprehensive probable, no matter of gender identification or other aspects, is not only a moral crucial. It is a strategic critical.”

Neither the White Home nor the vice president’s place of work promptly responded to Fox News’ request for remark. 

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz, Michael Lee, Tyler Olson and The Linked Push contributed to this report.

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