A Senate bid is in the future, but it’s about California now
Attorney General Holder has brought great honor to America as our nation’s top law enforcement officer. His work to protect voting rights, reduce inequities in our criminal justice system, and expand the rights of LGBT Americans leaves a profound and lasting legacy. I am honored to have worked closely with Attorney General Holder on criminal justice issues affecting California, including fighting transnational criminal organizations, reducing recidivism, supporting local law enforcement and securing billions of dollars for homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis. His leadership and integrity have made America a safer, better, and more just nation. (courtesy photo)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the leading candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016, but while gathering steam with a list of prominent endorsements to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer she has steadfastly kept her eye on the task at hand.
When asked of her potentially becoming the second Black woman in the U.S. Senate, Harris paused.
“One day at a time,” she told the Sentinel in an exclusive interview.
Harris, the first Black woman California A.G., has maintained laser focus on her second term as the state’s top prosecutor.
“There has been a lot of work,” she explained. “As I was talking about we have to be smart on crime in that we can’t just react to crime, we also have to prevent crime. To that end I created a new division to the Department of Justice, which we named the Bureau of Recidivism and Reduction.”
Harris also recently unveiled “Back on Track L.A.” in Los Angeles at the Pitches Detention Center to create a job-training program for low-level offenders.
“It’s important that we bring them back into the community in a way that they can reunite with their families and live a productive life,” she added.
Moreover, she created another division that caters to children in foster care, the Bureau of Children’s Justice.
“The particular emphasis is on foster youth, as we know children who are in foster care under no fault of their own and are not receiving the standard of care that I know they deserve,” Harris said.
“So, we are taking a critical look at what government is doing or not doing, non profits and all of those who are trusted with taking care of these children.”
Harris has continued her efforts against human trafficking; which she says can be indirectly connected to foster care.
“There are a large number of our youths involved in trafficking who come from the foster care system,” Harris explained. “We need to help the youth and give them protection and we need to hold offenders accountable.”
Additionally, Harris addressed the mental heath issue, particularly as it relates to crimes by police afflicting the Black community.
“I have convened a meeting with law enforcement in Los Angeles and separately the youth, particularly the Southeast section of Los Angeles to talk about ways that we can rededicate ourselves to relationships of trust between law enforcement and the community.
“I have also directed my division of law enforcement to do an analysis of what we are doing in training our law enforcement agents to make sure that we are engaged in best practices. Part of this includes what we have to do to address mental illness when it is present in our interaction with a police officer and a civilian.”
‘Back on Track L.A.’ also has a big component that aids in mental behavior therapy, training participants in how they react in certain stressful situations and helping to train them to react more appropriately.
In terms of finding a solution, Harris said, “I think we still have a long way to go. I really do.”
She indicated that programs she has implemented would allow for early detection of mental illness in youths who are growing up in a traumatic environment.
Harris’ decision to run for the U.S. Senate is predicated on her belief that, “We need a strong voice in Washington that represents smart on crime polices and represents what we need to do to protect our most venerable which include children, veterans and dealing with crimes against the environment and environmental justice issues.”
One of her many strengths is that she has existing relationships in Washington DC.
“It’s important if your are really trying to find solutions because you have to figure out a way to create collaborations and that’s the function of establishing relationships.”
She believes that many of the programs that she has created and implemented in California can be enhanced from Washington DC with her continued work on the federal level.
Being from a state as large and influential as California will be a instrumental asset for Harris as she campaigns for the Senate.
“We are the seventh largest economy in the world. Any issue that impacts California and we’ve dealt with almost all of them will be a national issue. So, the ground work has been laid in terms working on a variety of issues that impact a large number of people.”