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Kamala Harris tried to keep California inmates locked up for cheap labor.

Not Kamala Harris, but lawyers from then-California AG Harris’ office said that non-violent offenders needed to stay incarcerated for cheap labour.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v/s Plata that California's prisons were so overcrowded that they violated the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Consequently, in early 2014, California was ordered to allow non-violent, second-time offenders who have served half of their sentence to be eligible for parole. Following the order, many accused California of slow-walking the process of releasing detainees, which lawyers for Harris' office denied. When the plaintiff's lawyers took the matter to court, the state lawyers unsuccessfully argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively affect the prison's labor programs, including one that allowed certain inmates to fight California's wildfires for about $2 a day.

In 2014, BuzzFeed released an article where they reported that Kamala Harris was shocked when she read about her lawyers keeping non-violent prisoners from California's overcrowded prisons in jail because the state wanted to keep them as a labor force. She looked into it and directed the department's attorneys not to make that argument again. Subsequently, her office, on behalf of the state corrections department, then came to the table with the plaintiffs' representatives to negotiate an agreement, which the court subsequently approved, which led to an expansion of the 2-for-1 credits. This means that a person earns one day for every two days that they serve in the county jail, which means a person who has served two days in the county jail will receive credit for three days.

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