Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has claimed that she never meant for parents of children who skipped school to end up in jail – even though she pushed for the California law that put them there.
The Democratic presidential contender was asked about her hardline record on truancy during an appearance on Wednesday’s episode of “Pod Save America,” a progressive podcast. Host Jon Favreau noted that as San Francisco district attorney, Harris threatened parents whose kids missed too much school with prison time, and reportedly prosecuted at least 20 of them.
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In 2010, when she ran to be California attorney general, Harris championed a bill to implement her program statewide, touting its supposed role in boosting attendance. It was signed into law as she took office in 2011.
“I would not be standing here were it not for the education that I received, and I believe that a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime,” she said at a 2010 campaign stop. “So, I decided I was going to start prosecuting parents for truancy.”
“Well, this was a little controversial in San Francisco, and frankly my staff went bananas,” she added, laughing.
Harris struck a more somber note on “Pod Save America,” whose audience comprises the kinds of social-justice-loving young people whom she’s trying to make forget about her record as a prosecutor, which extends till her election to the Senate in 2017.
When pressed by Favreau, a former Obama speechwriter, Harris promised that she would not not seek national truancy legislation targeting parents if she were elected to the White House. She also expressed “regret” at the legacy of the California law.
“My regret is that, I have now heard stories where, in some jurisdictions, DAs have criminalized the parents,” she 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.”
Harris has given similarly parsed answers on the subject before. As Reason magazine’s Joe Seyton noted, she has also used the “unintended consequences” defense to elide responsibility for her other less-than-woke policies, including on immigration and sex work.
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