Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris lamented the mass incarceration of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses Thursday. The former California attorney general did not acknowledge that on her watch, 1,974 people were incarcerated for the same infraction.
“I mean, you want to talk about ‘gateway,’ that approach is the gateway to America’s problem of mass incarceration…” Harris told Stephen Colbert on Thursday. “So not only do I intend to legalize marijuana, but I will also tell you, Stephen, that part of the big issue is we’ve got whole populations of, in particular, black and brown men and women who have been incarcerated, who have been designated felons for life, who now should be coming out, we should be releasing them, we should be expunging their records.”
Harris neglected to mention her own role in incarcerating those black and brown men and women. A Washington Free Beacon investigation first reported that Harris, as attorney general of California, sent at least 1,560 people to state prisons for marijuana-related offenses between 2011 and 2016.
Presidential rival Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) brought further attention to Harris’s record during a July presidential debate, noting that 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.” Harris called that claim a “lie,” but a fact checkby the San Francisco Chroniclefound that the initial Free Beaconreport actually understated the number of jail sentences and “1,974 people were admitted for hashish and marijuana convictions during that period.”