Kamala Harris Is Dedicating Her First Major Legislative Effort To Bail Reform

By Taryn Finley, HuffPost Black Voices

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) is seeking some major criminal justice reform, starting with bail.

Along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Harris has introduced a bipartisan bill which calls for states to “reform or replace the practice of money bail, the requirement that individuals awaiting trial remain in jail unless they pay for their release.”

David McNew via Getty Images

Titled the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, the bill would authorize a $10 million grant over three years to encourage states to reform or replace the ineffective money bail system that requires people who haven’t been convicted of a crime to be detained pretrial unless they can afford to bail themselves out.

Harris and Paul’s bill also asks states to give individualized, pretrial assessments with risk-based decision-making in order to do away with the inaccurate risk-assessments currently given that lead to unwarranted disparities.

“This is such an important conversation and it does not ever receive the kind of attention it deserves, based just on the prevalence of it in terms of the number of people that are impacted,” Harris, who visited Central California Women’s Facility prior to her speech, said.

“And also, and I say this with a strong sense of optimism, that there is just so much that we can actually do to fix what is broken. And it’s not going to require us to be that creative,” she continued. “The solutions, some of them, are pretty obvious, and the more attention we give to the issue, I think, the more obvious they will be to a larger number of people.”

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Black legislators, past and present, celebrated in Atlanta exhibit

Image of the first black members of Congress

Image of the first black members of Congress

The rich history of Georgia’s black legislators has been captured in an exciting exhibit at an African-American library in downtown Atlanta.

The exhibition, entitled “Remembering Our Legends and Honoring Our Torchbearers”, features an extensive collection, from rare artifacts from the 19th century to documents from the civil rights era, as well as recorded interviews with current lawmakers.

The display, showcased at Auburn Avenue Research Library, celebrates the history of black Americans who have served in the Georgia General Assembly. This includes the first black men, who were elected to the Georgia legislature in 1868, but were prohibited from assuming office because of their color.

Read more about the exhibit here.