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ABC Moderator Confronts Kamala Harris on Crime: ‘Why Didn’t You Try to Affect Change’ When You Had Power?

ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis, one of the moderators of tonight’s Democratic debate, questioned the 2020 candidates about issues of race and criminal justice, pressing Senator Kamala Harris in particular on her record as a prosecutor.

Davis raised Harris’ recently-released plan for criminal justice reform and said, “It does contradict some of your prior positions. Among them, you used to oppose the legalization of marijuana, now you don’t. You used to oppose outside investigations of police shootings, now you don’t. You said that you’ve changed on these and other things because you were, quote, ‘swimming against the current and thankfully, the currents have changed.’ But when you had the power, why didn’t you try to affect change then?”

Davis received a fair amount of applause for the question.

Harris said that “there have been many distortions of my record” and responded:

“I made a decision that if I was going to have the ability to reform the system, I would try to do it from the inside. And so, I took on the position that allowed me, without asking permission, to create one of the first in the nation initiatives that was a model and became a national model around people who were arrested for drugs and getting them jobs. I created one of the first in the nation requirements that a state law enforcement agency would have to wear cameras and keep them on full-time. I created one of the first in the nation trainings for police officers on the issue of racial bias and the need to reform the system. Was I able to get enough done? Absolutely not. But my plan has been described by activists as being a bold and comprehensive plan that is about ending mass incarceration, about taking the profit out of the criminal justice system. I plan on shutting down for-profit prisons on day one. It will be about what we need to do to hold law enforcement, including prosecutors, accountable.”

You can watch above, via ABC.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac