D.A. Kamala Harris
The candidate, Kamala Harris
Sentinel News Service
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris is a candidate California Attorney General. When DA Harris won election as San Francisco's District Attorney in 2003, she became the first African American female to ever hold the post of District Attorney in the history of California. If elected to the office of California Attorney General, Kamala would become the first woman and the first African American in California to hold the post. The last time an African American was elected to a statewide office was 31 years ago.
For a young woman born to two parents active in civil rights in Berkeley during the 1960s, Kamala grew up amidst the chanting and singing of the Civil Rights movement. The selection of a career as a prosecutor may have seemed curious to her family at the time, but following the footsteps of the great lawyers of the civil rights era, she found her voice in the courtroom.
From the public schools of the East Bay, Kamala moved to Washington, D.C. to attend college at Howard University, the nation's oldest historically black university, and then back to San Francisco to attend Hastings College of the Law. Her first job was as a prosecutor in the Alameda County D.A.'s office--the same office in which Earl Warren served prior to becoming Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
In 1998, she moved to the San Francisco District Attorney's office where she prosecuted career criminals before being recruited to lead the San Francisco City Attorney's Community and Neighborhood Division. After a long race for District Attorney, where she started at six percent in the polls, Kamala unseated a two-term incumbent in November 2003.
From the day she took office as District Attorney, Kamala Harris had a new vision for law enforcement. Rejecting the false choice that we must choose between being "tough on crime," or "soft on crime," Kamala aimed to make San Francisco "Smart on Crime." That means ensuring consequences for those who commit crime in our communities, and she has done that--felony conviction rates are at the highest level in fifteen years. In addition, she has created new prosecution units focused on child assault, public integrity and environmental crimes.
But Kamala's approach is also about being innovative in finding ways to keep the city safe--both stopping the cycle of crimes and preventing crime before it occurs. As she enters her seventh year as San Francisco's District Attorney, the "Smart on Crime" approach Kamala has pioneered continues to serve as a model for the nation to reform our criminal justice system.
For example, California has one of the highest rates of recidivism in the entire country. California releases 120,000 inmates a year--seventy percent of them return to prison within three years. In response, Kamala launched an early intervention program called Back on Track. Kamala's Back on Track initiative has achieved nationwide recognition for its successes in taking first-time, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders off the streets, giving them an education, job training and other important life skills, and re-entering them back into productive society. The program is paying off--the recidivism rate for the participants of Back of Track has been reduced from 54 percent to less than ten percent.
And her fight against school truancy provides hope to children who too often feel that our educational system does not care about them. These are a few models of successes that Kamala Harris hopes to bring to the state of California as Attorney General.
As Attorney General, Kamala will bring her innovative approach to address the state's criminal justice problems and continue to use her twenty years of prosecutorial experience to take on the perpetrators of financial crimes, mortgage fraud, identity theft and elder abuse.
Kamala has been endorsed by California's elected, law enforcement and community leaders, including United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman, Lt. Gov., Senator and Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (Ret.), Former San Francisco Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Ambassador and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, California President of the California NAACP Alice Huffman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, California Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Curren Price (D-Los Angeles), Senator Kevin Murray (Ret.), Assemblyman SandrÃ© Swanson (D-Oakland), Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles), Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (Ret.), Los Angeles Chief of Police William Bratton (Ret.), San Diego Chief of Police William Lansdowne, San Francisco Police Chief George GascÃ³n. She has also been endorsed by every major California newspaper endorsing in the race.
For more information about Kamala Harris' candidacy for California Attorney General, visit www.kamalaharris.org.