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Checking in With California's New Attorney General Kamala Harris

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Politics has always been one of those areas where Kamala Harris felt she could not only put her hard-earned law degree to good use, but also show her more patriotic side while proving the political stereotype wrong in the process. She's certainly succeeded on all fronts. Harris was not only San Francisco’s first female district attorney, but she was also the first South Asian woman and African American woman to hold that office within the state of California. So successful was she, her constituents overwhelmingly voted to keep her in office during the 2007 elections.

Before going into politics, Harris spent her legal days in the courtroom as a prosecutor. She graduated U.C. Hastings College of the Law and then accepted a position at the Alameda County, California District Attorney's office. She spent nearly a decade in this role before being promoted in 1998 to the role of managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. She was respected and was considered both tough and fair. Her prosecution rates were some of the highest in the state. She has squared off with the most brutal of our society, including those accused of violent crimes, domestic abuse offenders and child molesters. As a result of her dedication and commitment, the San Francisco's conviction rate rose by 15% while she was in office.


Harris has been honored with many awards, including the 2004 Child Advocate of the Year, presented each year by the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Council, ''100 Most Influential Black Americans'' by Ebony Magazine and California Lawyer named her one of the top 100 lawyers in 2006.

Winning the 2010 election for California's Attorney General was achieved due to her tireless and ethical approach to campaigning. Always aware of issues such as punishment versus rehabilitation, recidivism rates and the economics of crime, she brings to the table a unique skill set achieved through her vast knowledge of the law and of course, her experience. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a program Harris authored.

With endorsements from Senator Dianne Feinstein and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Harris threw her hat into the political ring. Her endorsements included the United Farm Workers, United Educators of San Francisco and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Even after a tough campaign, an errant victory claimed by her opponent and the ultimate concession by that same opponent, Kamala Harris was named the state's newest attorney general.

Her career hasn't come without some level of controversy. She is vehemently opposed to the death penalty and has put her beliefs to the test on more than one occasion. Even after the public demanded a death penalty for Edwin Ramos, who is both an illegal immigrant and gang member and murdered a father and his two sons, Harris instead sought life in prison versus the death penalty. Many were outraged, but Harris believed it was more cost efficient to send Ramos to prison for the rest of his life.

For now, Kamala Harris is busy bringing in the new year in the capacity of California's newest attorney general. Her work is certainly cut out for her, but odds are, she's going to thrive with the challenge.


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