Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Offers a Crappy Apology to Parents Who Went to Jail Because Their Kids Missed School

Harris supported a truancy law that listed jail time as a punishment for parents.

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Kamala Harris, the California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has offered a half-hearted apology for a hardline truancy policy she championed as a prosecutor.

Back when she was district attorney of San Francisco, Harris was a vocal supporter of prosecuting the parents of children who missed a lot of school. "I believe a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime," she said in 2010. "So I decided I was going to start prosecuting parents for truancy."

The vast majority of murder victims age 25 or younger dropped out of high school, Harris has said. Her solution: Stop them from dropping out. It was a "groundbreaking strategy," she wrote in a 2009 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. "To date, I have prosecuted 20 parents of young children for truancy. The penalty for truancy charged as a misdemeanor is a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year of jail."

As a candidate for California attorney general, a position she assumed in 2011, Harris supported the ultimately successful passage of a statewide truancy law, The Washington Post reported. The law "states that a student missing more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year must be classified as a truant," according to the California Department of Education.

The parents of truant children were liable to be prosecuted, though as Vox noted, parents were normally only prosecuted if their kids missed more than a month. While no parents were jailed for truancy while Harris was DA of San Francisco, the state law she supported led to some California parents being put behind bars.

In an interview with Pod Save America host Jon Favreau that will air in full Wednesday night, Harris was asked if she would "support that kind of law, the California law, as president?"

"No," she responded. But Harris didn't appear ready to accept full responsibility for the parents who were sent to jail under the law she supported. "I had no control over that," she said, even though she could have prevented it by opposing the law, which included penalties of up to a year in jail.

The fact that some parents were locked up was an "unintended consequence," she added. "When I was DA, we never sent a parent to jail."

After explaining her reasoning for supporting the local truancy policy as San Francisco D.A., Harris expressed regret that the state law led to jail time for some parents. "My regret is that, I have now heard stories where, in some jurisdictions, DAs have criminalized the parents," Harris said. "And I regret that that has happened and the thought that anything I did could have led to that, because that was certainly not the intention," she added, again emphasizing that jail time for parents "never was the intention."

It's worth noting, as the Post did last month, that when discussing her past support for anti-truancy policies, Harris focuses on her time as district attorney, not on what happened to parents while she was attorney general. This makes sense, as it's much easier to defend a policy that didn't result in parents going to jail.

Harris has used the "unintended consequence" defense to massage her record before. As Reason's C.J. Ciaramella reported in February, Harris was asked about her previous support for a San Francisco policy to report undocumented juveniles who had been arrested to federal immigration officials. "That ended up being an unintended consequence of the policy and I did not support that consequence of that policy. And that policy I believe has since changed because it was not the intended purpose of that policy," Harris said. In fact, this was the explicit policy of the city, and Harris opposed a push to change it.

Harris has tried to massage her record in other areas as well. In February, The Root asked Harris about her prior support for FOSTA, the disastrous anti-sex trafficking law that made it a federal crime to host web content that "facilitates prostitution." Harris now says she's not necessarily opposed to decriminalizing consensual sex work, but she still would not denounce FOSTA.

She also said she wants bad actors in sex work to be prosecuted. In theory, she's right, but those bad actors often turn out to be clients who pay women for consensual sex. In the past, Harris has supported cracking down on these "johns."

Or consider her position on drugs. Harris now supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but as a prosecutor, she opposed legalization for years. And while she's fine with legalized weed, she wrote in her memoir The Truths We Hold that she still wants to give law enforcement money to "cut off the supply of fentanyl from China" and to "reinstate the DEA's authority to go after the major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors." In short, she's still a drug warrior.

In all of these areas—truancy, immigration, sex work, and drugs—Harris' views appear to have evolved for the better. But that doesn't mean she can or should avoid responsibility for the harm caused by policies she previously supported.

NEXT: America Gets Ready for Mueller

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  1. She’s still my first choice for 2020.

    1. But not intentionally, right? Because only intentions actually count.

      1. Punishing one person for the doings of another? An idea whose time has come!!!

        Forthwith, whenever cops go over-board and kill people for looking at them funny, or for not dropping their cell-phones fast enough under cop commands… You know that cell phones and handguns are both suspiciously dangerous-looking objects, right?… Then those who enabled the cops (legislators) shall be HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DOINGS OF THE OUT-OF-CONTROL COPS!!!

        What’s good for the goose, and all, yes?

    2. She’d be my first choice too… but we’re not burning witches anymore, or drowning them, so scratch that.
      If she’s to remain alive, she’d be my second-to-last choice.
      You’ll have to guess who’s worse.

      1. Bill Weld?

        1. It is odd. But then again, I’ve wondered: could Trump be our first libertarian president? On balance, it seems no – but it is slim pickings in the boneyard at the gop admittedly. I don’t think we will know until maybe next year, after democrat committees finish shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. For now, the dust storm Mueller kicked up for the media is still obscuring the view. The room afforded Weld could be an interesting barometer of things to come – the first hurdle is to hew down the so called committee on presidential debates, which [after locking out Harry Brown] has proven it does not tolerate free speech on national issues: only an A vs. B approved template is what they’re after.

  2. I passed the law and the law won!

    I passed the law but I did not intend it to be used.

    I wonder what her excuse will be when she drops out of the presidential race … I ran for President but did not intend to win?

    1. Drop out? I honestly believe she’ll be the Democratic nominee. At the very worst, she’ll be the VP and can then become President in 2028.

  3. “Unintended consequence”.
    Translation: she didn’t give a fuck.

  4. Some people did something, yada yada yada, they were put in jail.

    Supporting nanny-state laws with criminal penalties has the Unintended Consequence of getting people locked up? Like professors transporting 300 year old flintlocks thru New Jersey. Or just get them arrested and choke-holded for selling loosies outside bodegas

    1. Excuse me, I meant to say that FAMILIES WERE SEPARATED UNDER HER POLICY

  5. “I believe a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime,” she said in 2010. “So I decided I was going to start prosecuting parents for truancy.”

    Yeah legislatures are giving prosecutors so many laws to work with that prosecutors can decide for themselves what segments of the population they can make a living hell in order to further their careers.

    1. Bill Clinton toyed with the idea of the same law when he was Gov.

    2. Here is the thing this cunt is too arrogant to perceive: I was truant for at least 1/3 of high school. I distinctly remember that I missed 45 days my senior year. Yet, without studying, I managed to ace the SAT along with scoring in the 98% on every standardized test they ever gave me.

      In hindsight, other than Trigonometry and Physics, which many kids never get through, I would say that high school made me dumber. Even in the mid-80s, the hippies with tenure were already rewriting history. The amount of shit I had to unlearn is simply amazing.

      But if you want to breed for white terrorism, locking up the mom of a kid too smart to want to go to school is a great way to start.

      1. Do you wonder why mainstream people shun you and America stomps on your political preferences, Chuckles?

        I blame your position on the spectrum.

        1. Nah… the 80’s was a dark time in education. I too managed to make myself dumber by staying in high school. I went off to a big-name private university at 16, but couldn’t afford to stay (at $25k per year, who could?) after the scholarship program I enlisted in was cancelled, so back to high school it was. That last year was such a waste. The main thing I learned was a bunch of bad habits that I spent 2 years unlearning.

          Oh, and I learned that secondary schools are a prison-like power game. I was met by open hostility from the staff after spending two summer sessions in college. It took a while for me to figure out why the people who were so happy with me only 3 months earlier suddenly thought I had a bad attitude. I finally figured out that what had changed was that I was looking them in the eye and talking to them directly – as if speaking to another human being instead of cowering with eyes lowered. I only noticed it because I saw the way my brother interacted with his teachers one day.

          It was that year that my father learned from the school board that the public schools in our county were not designed to give kids the best education possible. They were designed to mint out new factory workers for the textile mills and cigarette factories. So we learned to show up on time, take breaks by the clock and read and understand safety instructions. Real education was for the kids of the owners and management of the mills and factories, and that took place in private schools. They wanted their kids to grow up to be the management, not some factory worker’s kid.

          If only I knew then what I know now….

          1. Sounds like the capitalist class was exploiting the working class.

            1. Money gets made on the front end of a deal: never sign on for something until you figure out the back end. Our public schools cranking out sheeple are menace: stand in line/never ask real questions etc is what they produce. I’m pretty sure of one thing: teachers unions can’t call themselves capitalists with a straight face. Good business is not about checking the right boxes [and getting a certificate for doing so], but helping solve somebody elses problems.

      2. Likewise- the 80s were real sketchy and gave the impetus for home schooling beyond religious reasons.

        You had situations where students had mostly high marks, but had missed a large portion of the school year. Even with the most generous reading of the state, it’s hard to see how large fines and jail-time improves the situation.

  6. And I regret that that has happened and the thought that anything I did could have led to that, because that was certainly not the intention…

    “As president I won’t think things through.”

  7. I hope Kamala Harris runs for the POTUS next year.
    We could all use the laughs.

    1. She’d easily beat Drumpf or any other Republican. 330 electoral votes minimum and a 5+ percentage point victory in the popular vote.

      1. Behold, the seer Nostransdamus!

  8. In all of these areas—truancy, immigration, sex work, and drugs—Harris’ views appear to have evolved for the better changed for the sake of political expediency.

    FTFY

    1. The woman changes direction more often than a flag in a hurricane.

  9. Progressives won’t care. Even if they’re the ones who went to jail. Because it’s a progressive politician. It’s all about the GoodThink.

  10. All prosecutors are scum.

    1. Not all prosecutors are scum, many of them are slime, pieces of shit, piles of rotted offal, and a few – I assume – are good people.

  11. ““I believe a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime,” she said in 2010. “So I decided I was going to start prosecuting parents for truancy.”

    Well, let’s see…

    Q: Do schools get money based on attendance?

    A: Each year, the Department of Education calculates a “revenue limit,” which is the amount of money a district should receive in general funding for each student in a traditional, non-charter public school. School districts receive that money per student based on attendance, not enrollment.

    Yep, not attending school is a crime. It’s essentially taking food out of the mouths of our hard-working public school administrators and teachers.

    1. A parent who denies a child an education should be provided one chance to improve, then should lose custody of the child. Children deserve an opportunity to overcome grossly substandard parents.

      People too stupid to recognize this should be disregarded.

      1. attending school and being educated are not the same thing.

        1. “attending school and being educated are not the same thing.”

          People too stupid to recognize this should be disregarded.

      2. How many days did you miss per year, Rev? My guess is all of them.

        1. No, he attended every day – and only learned the things that weren’t true.

  12. Yeah, with apologies to OBL, I don’t think she’s gonna get the nom. This is just icing on the cake.

    1. You underestimate the ability of the progressive left and their media cheerleaders to believe what they want to believe. There is no past position that can undo the holiness of their preferred nominee. At some point that will shake out, and all others will be burned as heretics. I doubt that prior lives prosecuting website owners or parents of kids who skipped math class are sufficient to rile the minions, not so long as they think she can win. They openly wept when their precious Hillary lost, a woman who shares basically none of their ideals.

  13. I wonder if, as a prosecutor, she showed leniency to people who assured her that “I didn’t *mean* to do it!”

    1. If I recall correctly, she came back after the owners of backpage.com even after getting smacked down by the courts, eventually running them out of business, despite losing in court. If “actual innocence” doesn’t matter to her, I really doubt that intent comes anywhere near the top 10 on her priority list.

  14. It makes sense to me: you can’t make your kid go to school when he lives with you, but when Harris sends you to jail for a year, your kid with a now absentee will have perfect attendance.

    Where do they find these imbeciles? Is there some law that says someone must be a moron in order to run for office?

    1. She said that criminal penalties were an unintended consequence of a law that she supported that carried criminal penalties. I don’t think it is her intelligence that is at question, so much as her complete contempt for the intelligence of the voters.

      Unfortunately, the voters of California have thusfar proven her correct on that point.

  15. She is a horrible, horrible human being. The fact that she’s getting any traction at all is sickening. Progressives should be horrified by her civil rights record.

  16. […] In a book released just last year, Sen. Kamala Harris stands by her former attempts to jail the parents of truant schoolchildren, going so far as to state that one of the prime reasons she ran for attorney general of California was to take this truancy-initiative statewide. But after taking heat from pretty much all sides over that position, she claims that she now regrets her truancy initiatives. […]

  17. […] In a book released just last year, Sen. Kamala Harris stands by her former attempts to jail the parents of truant schoolchildren, going so far as to state that one of the prime reasons she ran for attorney general of California was to take this truancy-initiative statewide. But after taking heat from pretty much all sides over that position, she claims that she now regrets her truancy initiatives. […]

  18. […] In a book released just last year, Sen. Kamala Harris stands by her former attempts to jail the parents of truant schoolchildren, going so far as to state that one of the prime reasons she ran for attorney general of California was to take this truancy-initiative statewide. But after taking heat from pretty much all sides over that position, she claims that she now regrets her truancy initiatives. […]

  19. So the punishment was up to $2500 or a year in jail. ok, one of those seems disproportionate from the other. Sure makes me think it was only about recovering federal dollars not earned because the child missed some school.

  20. So Harris separated parents from their children for truancy and yet complains when ICE does the same thing for illegally entering the country which I consider to be a far greater crime.
    The hypocrisy of the left is astounding.

  21. Sorry. “Kallectivist” Harris is a no-no for U.S. of A. President. Only a candidate for U.S. of A. who respects, believes in, and/or will not destroy freedom-based Individualism (I love the right to make decisions that will especially benefit me financially for as long as such decisions will not cause physical harm and/or death to people around me) will do. Like it or not, freedom-based Individualism is still thriving under Trump.

    Now, explain to me why I need to elect someone else and not reelect Trump…while giving up some or all of the freedoms that I’ve been given by my creator (yes I believe in God for he created me), Individualism included.

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  23. […] as she defines it. Just ask California parents who were threatened with jail time because of her support for criminal truancy laws when she was a district attorney in San Francisco, and then again later when she was attorney […]

  24. […] as she defines it. Just ask California parents who were threatened with jail time because of her support for criminal truancy laws when she was a district attorney in San Francisco, and then again later when she was attorney […]

  25. […] as she defines it. Just ask California parents who were threatened with jail time because of her support for criminal truancy laws when she was a district attorney in San Francisco, and then again later when she was attorney […]

  26. […] as she defines it. Just ask California parents who were threatened with jail time because of her support for criminal truancy laws when she was a district attorney in San Francisco, and then again later when she was attorney […]

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