During one of the most explosive moments of Wednesday’s debate, candidate Tulsi Gabbard ripped Kamala Harris for multiple atrocities including blocking evidence that would have freed an innocent man and keeping people in prison beyond their sentences for cheap labor.
I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today. Now Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president.
But I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
She blocked evidence. She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 1, 2019
The Sacramento Bee calls Gabbard’s claim that Harris blocked evidence accurate.
During Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard went after California Sen. Kamala Harris over her record as the state’s attorney general and San Francisco’s district attorney.
Biden alluded to a crime lab scandal that involved her office and resulted in more than 1,000 drug cases being dismissed. Gabbard claimed Harris “blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until she was forced to do so.”
Both of these statements are accurate.
Longtime San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi criticized Harris’s handling of the crime lab situation during a January interview with The Sacramento Bee in January.
The lab was closed after it was determined that a top technician, who testified on prosecutors’ behalf for drug cases, mishandled drug samples seized from suspects.
While the San Francisco Police Department was responsible for running the lab, not Harris’s district attorney office, a court ruled in 2010 that the district attorney’s office violated defendants’ constitutional rights by not disclosing what it knew about the tainted drug evidence.
The lab was shut down after a lead technician, who testified on behalf of prosecutors on drug cases, was found to have systematically mishandled the drug samples seized from suspects, even consuming some herself.
Judge Anne-Christine Masullo wrote in her decision that prosecutors “at the highest levels of the district attorney’s office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and that there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab.”
Harris has denied being aware of those issues until the scandal exploded and also noted that her office implemented reforms once it had.