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Protect Our 'Vote'

Our vote counts, but is Kamala Harris who we think she is?

For the past decade, the Democratic Party has done what is in the best interest of the middle class, the impoverished, and LGBTQ community. As the middle class is becoming more race plural, the minority vote is more important than ever but does Sen. Kamala ( KAH-mah-lah) Harris deserve "OUR" vote? 

This is not an article questioning whether she is qualified. Sen. Kamala Harris is more than qualified to be The President of The United States of America she graduated with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of California in 1989 and was the deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California from 1990 to 1998. In 2003 She became District Attorney of the city and county of San Francisco and in 2008 she announced her candidacy for California Attorney General and won in 2010. This article is to protect "OUR" vote from another "three strikes" bill passed by former President Bill Clinton.

Sen. Harris was in charge of prosecuting many different crimes, this could range from financial crimes to crimes against the privacy of a mobile app user. At the end of 2016, 29 percent of the male prisoners in state prisons were African American, while only six percent of the state’s male residents are African American. The incarceration rate for African American men is 4,180 per 100,000. White men are imprisoned at a rate of 420 per 100,000, and imprisonment rates for Latino men and men of other races are 1,028 and 335, respectively. This is important because in 2011 Sen. Harris had a chance to change this after the United States Supreme Court ruling of Brown V. Plata.  In this case the Prison Law Office of Berkeley, California filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of their client Marciano Plata and several other prisoners alleging that the California prisons were in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the constitution which bans "cruel and unusual punishment." Following a lengthy trial, a special panel of three federal judges determined that serious overcrowding in California's 33 prisons was the "primary cause" for violations of the Eighth Amendment. The court ordered the release of enough prisoners so the inmate population would come within 137.5 percent of the prisons' total design capacity. That amounts to between 38,000 and 46,000 inmates being released.

Sen. Harris fought against the federal court supervision explaining "I have a client, and I don't get to choose my client." After California failed to fully implement the court's order to reduce crowding and was ordered to implement new parole programs, and the State of California appealed the decision. In court filings the AG's office argued that if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important source of labor, such as for fighting wildfires. Prisoners in California earn between eight and 37 cents per hour in maintenance and kitchen jobs; prisoner firefighters receive higher pay, at $1 per hour. Harris later backed away from her office's argument in the prison-litigation case,  stating that, "The way that argument played out in court does not reflect my priorities... The idea that we incarcerate people to have indentured servants is one of the worst possible perceptions. I feel very strongly about that. It evokes images of chain gangs." If she felt that way why did she fight to keep people in prison to work for little to nothing? Why not suggests releasing the prisoners and hiring them to provide stability and opportunity?

In practice, Harris defended California’s uniquely cruel three-strikes law, the only one in the country which imposed life sentences for a third “strike” that was any minor felony. She urged voters to reject Proposition 66, a ballot initiative that would have reformed the harsh law by making only serious or violent felonies trigger life sentences. So is Sen. Harris really for prison reform or playing on the emotions of minority voters? Is she in tune with the people she is trying to reach? This is questioned because in her inaugural speech as AG she stated “We are putting parents on notice. If you fail in your responsibility to your kids, we are going to work to make sure you face the full force and consequences of the law.” These consequences have plagued our community for so long. Having parents who have to work two jobs and still have to have a side hustle to feed their family but can't get their kids to school on time because they're tired is not failing your responsibility as a parent. This is due to a failing government taxing the middle class more than the rich and not controlling inflation because you are unaware of how it affects the community. As district attorney, Sen. Harris successfully championed a statewide version of an anti-truancy law she had put in place in San Francisco that threatened parents of truant children with as much as a $2,000 fine and a year in jail. By October 2012, two mothers had been imprisoned under the law. Fining these mothers $2,000 they couldn't afford, didn't make their situation better it put them in more debt and hurt the household further. You can't fine people barely making ends meet and expect the situation to get better.

Before you get behind Sen. Harris make her prove she is worthy of your vote. What is she going to change? How will this affect me and my family? Women are more compassionate and forgiving, this country is well overdue a female President, but let's not rush and get behind a candidate due to gender, skin color or party, get behind a candidate because they stand for what is right for the country. "Our" vote is the most important vote so let's hold the candidates accountable because once we vote for them they represent "US." The Declaration of Independence states that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government" So let's hold these politicians accountable to make better decisions for the country and "OUR" people. In closing, I'd like to use a quote from Beto O' Rourke, "We can be governed by our ambitions and our aspirations and our desire to make the most out of all of us. And that's America at its best."

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