Kamala Harris Cackles With Delight at Thought of Jailing Poor Parents Whose Kids Skip School

“Well, this was a little controversial in San Francisco.”

A video has resurfaced of Sen. Kamala Harris guffawing as she boasts to an audience about fighting truancy in San Francisco by threatening to jail parents of children who skip school.


Harris, still a district attorney at the time, was speaking at the Commonwealth Club in 2010 on the topic of criminal justice. In a clip pulled by Twitter user Jermane Lee Willis -— who describes himself as a “Southern black who knows his rightful place: owning the means of production” — she is seen explaining that her law-enforcement position gave her “a huge stick” to pressure families to behave better.

“I would not be standing here were it not for the education that I received,” Harris said. “And I believe that a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime. So I decided I was gonna start prosecuting parents for truancy.”

“Well, this was a little controversial in San Francisco,” she added, laughing. “And frankly my staff went bananas.”

In actuality, her plan was more scare tactic than prosecutorial policy. She sent out an official letter — under the DA letterhead — warning parents about “the connection that was statistically proven between elementary school truancy, high school dropouts, who will become a victim of crime, and who will become a perpetrator or crime.”

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It had the intended result, she said. “A friend of mine actually called me and he said, Kamala, my wife got the letter. She freaked out. She brought all the kids into the living room, held up the letter, said if you don’t go to school, Kamala is going to put you and me in jail,” Harris told the amused audience.

Harris, who officially joined the presidential race this week, is making liberals uneasy. Her attempts to brand herself as a “progressive prosecutor” only drew attention to her hardline record in the San Francisco’s district attorney office, where she had served from 2004 to 2011.

To progressives anxious for criminal justice reform, this video is Harris’ version of Hillary Clinton’s infamous 1996 “super-predators” speech — supposedly a testament to her willingness to put the burden of responsibility not on the state, but on the backs of those who have already fallen behind.

“Gotta agree as an Oscar Nominee, Emmy Winner and a kid who skipped a lot of school because my teachers in public school were hateful bigoted sadists,” wrote award-winning documentarist Josh Fox, “that this video is terrifying. We need good schools. Real encouragement. Not a police state. Help for troubled families-Not jail.”

For conservatives, who might not necessarily disagree with the policies of a non-progressive prosecutor, it was the elation in Harris’ tone while discussing the issue that was troubling.

In fact, conservative commentator Stephen Miller expressed frustration with his own side’s media for dwelling on the salacious (but politically immaterial) affair Harris had with San Francisco’s then-mayor, instead of properly reporting on her professional record.

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