Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ father recently rebuked her for using the stereotype that Jamaicans like those in her family smoke marijuana.
It turns out that Harris’ father Donald Harris made a startling admission in an essay he wrote entitled “Reflections of a Jamaican Father” which was published at Jamaica Global Online:
“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me). The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1939 one year after I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town (and where, as a child, I learned the catechism, was baptized and confirmed, and served as an acolyte).”
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When Harris was attorney general in California, her Department of Justice tried to block parole for some prisoners so they could keep doing their prison labor.
Jackie Kucinich reported for the Daily Beast: “According to court filings, lawyers for the state said California met benchmarks, and argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively affect the prison’s labor programs, including one that allowed certain inmates to fight California’s wildfires for about $2 a day.
“Extending 2-for-1 credits to all minimum custody inmates at this time would severely impact fire camp participation—a dangerous outcome while California is in the middle of a difficult fire season and severe drought,” lawyers for Harris wrote in the filing, noting that the fire camp program required physical fitness in addition to a level of clearance that allowed the felon to be offsite.”…
Harris, for her part, told BuzzFeed News two months after the arguments were made on her behalf, that she was “shocked” by the argument, telling the publication she was looking into it.
Asked about the case this week, Harris’s presidential campaign said she took action.
“As she said at the time, Senator Harris was shocked and troubled by the use of this argument. She looked into it and directed the department’s attorneys not to make that argument again,” said spokesman Ian Sams. “Her office, on behalf of the state corrections’ department, then came to the table with the plaintiffs’ representatives to negotiate an agreement, which the court subsequently approved, that led to an expansion of the 2-for-1 credits.”
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Thinkprogress reported in 2014: “California Attorney General Kamala Harris told ThinkProgress Wednesday she is concerned her department created a perception that the state’s prisons have a goal of “indentured servitude.” Harris was responding to revelations that lawyers in her office argued in court without her knowledge that a program to parole more prisoners would drain the state’s source of cheap labor.
“The way that argument played out in court does not reflect my priorities,” she said, adding that she fears state lawyers taking that position will create more distrust in the criminal justice system. Harris worried that heavily policed communities may suspect the state has an “ulterior motive,” especially when it seems “the penalty may not be proportionate to the crime.”
“The idea that we incarcerate people to have indentured servitude is one of the worst possible perceptions,” said Harris. “I feel very strongly about that. It evokes images of chain gangs. I take it very seriously and I’m looking into exactly what needs to be done to correct it.”
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