Kamala Harris unveils bill to fund, support public defenders

By Stephanie Ramirez

/ CBS News

Harris grills Barr on White House contacts

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democratic candidate for president, will unveil a new bill Wednesday that promises to provide hundreds of millions in new funding for public defenders.

Harris' EQUAL Defense Act would allocate $250 million to establish workload limits for public defenders and create "pay parity between public defenders within five years," according to a statement released by her office. It would also authorize an additional $5 million to train public defenders.

Some progressives have criticized Harris, who was San Francisco's district attorney and California's attorney general, for her record as a prosecutor. Harris has responded that she was a "progressive prosecutor" who fought racial bias in police departments, opposed the death penalty, and tried to keep first-time offenders out of jail.

Trending News

In the statement announcing the bill, Harris' office said that the "scales are too often tipped in favor of the prosecution" in criminal cases.

"And even though there have been encouraging signs, including the election of reform-minded prosecutors, the only way to create an effective system that holds prosecutors accountable and allows criminal defendants to get a truly fair shot is to have a strong and competent defense," the statement adds.

Public defenders often carry massive workloads and work for comparatively little pay. A January New York Times story highlighted by Harris' statement reported that the number of cases public defenders must handle often precludes them from mounting an effective defense for their clients.

Harris' bill would also allocate money to study public defenders' workloads and reauthorize funds to assist in paying off their student loans. According to the statement, the bill has been endorsed by numerous legal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP legal defense fund.

First published on May 8, 2019 / 5:16 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kamala Harris unveils bill to fund, support public defenders

The California senator and former prosecutor says her legislation will support America's overburdened public defenders

14M ago

Six dead, including 4 kids, in Harlem apartment building fire

Authorities say it doesn't appear to be suspicious

52M ago

Kim Kardashian West helps free 17 inmates in 90 days

Kim Kardashian West​ has stayed committed to her pledge to fight for prison reform, helping lawyers free 17 inmates from federal prison

4H ago

DOJ threatens to invoke privilege over entire Mueller report

The Judiciary Committee will move ahead with a planned vote to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt Wednesday morning, despite the Justice Department's threat

4H ago

Controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy will be allowed to continue

Under this plan, some individuals and family units seeking asylum along the Southern Border are processed by immigration officials and then returned to Mexico to wait for their immigration court date

5H ago

Kamala Harris unveils bill to fund, support public defenders

The California senator and former prosecutor says her legislation will support America's overburdened public defenders

14M ago

Busy Philipps recounts her abortion while discussing Georgia law

"The statistic is that one in four women will have an abortion before age 45," she said. "Maybe you're sitting there thinking,'I don't know a woman who would have an abortion.' Well, you know me"

4H ago

DOJ threatens to invoke privilege over entire Mueller report

The Judiciary Committee will move ahead with a planned vote to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt Wednesday morning, despite the Justice Department's threat

4H ago

Controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy will be allowed to continue

Under this plan, some individuals and family units seeking asylum along the Southern Border are processed by immigration officials and then returned to Mexico to wait for their immigration court date

5H ago

Democrats threaten to hold former Trump lawyer in contempt

House Democrats have asked McGahn to produce documents related to the special counsel's investigation

6H ago

Iran announces partial withdrawal from 2015 nuclear deal

Regime outlines 2 immediate steps, says others will follow if other nations fail to draw up new "Win-Win" terms and conditions for the pact Trump abandoned

updated 54M ago

7-year-old reunites with father 326 days after being separated

Angie was released to her mother in Houston, but she hadn't known her since she was a baby

5H ago

After wave of employee suicides, company execs face charges

Former president of France Telecom defends himself against accusations of "moral harassment"

11H ago

Boy dances after receiving prosthetic leg

Ahmad could not stop spinning around and dancing after putting on his new leg

13H ago

Mexican authorities believe no one survived private jet crash

Ten passengers and three crew members were aboard the jet, which was traveling from Las Vegas but crashed in Mexico's Cohuila state Sunday

14H ago

Kim Kardashian West helps free 17 inmates in 90 days

Kim Kardashian West​ has stayed committed to her pledge to fight for prison reform, helping lawyers free 17 inmates from federal prison

4H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream in May

Apr 26 36 photos

Busy Philipps recounts her abortion while discussing Georgia law

"The statistic is that one in four women will have an abortion before age 45," she said. "Maybe you're sitting there thinking,'I don't know a woman who would have an abortion.' Well, you know me"

4H ago

Met Gala 2019: Red carpet looks

See what all your favorite celebrities wore to fashion's biggest night

May 6 80 photos

New details on "Star Wars," "Avatar" sequels

As "Avengers: Endgame" continues to break records at the box office, Disney has announced major plans for its new movies

12H ago

4 biggest takeaways from Google's 2019 Developer Conference

With Android "Q," Google is finally introducing fan favorite "Dark Mode"

3H ago

Will Uber drivers profit from tech company's big IPO?

Already-rich investors are poised to win big-time, but the outcome for drivers who fuel the company is less favorable

11H ago

Lyft first-quarter revenues beat expectations, but reports loss

Heavy spending during the ride-hailing company's first reporting period since its IPO led to a $212 million loss

11H ago

China-linked hackers repurposed NSA cyberweapons report says

The cybersecurity firm Symantec released a report Tuesday on the hackers' use of the weapons

12H ago

Riot Games employees walk out to protest forced arbitration

More than 150 workers at video game developer Riot Games walked out of the company's Los Angeles headquarters

15H ago

Study finds contaminated drinking water in 43 states

An environmental non-profit and university researchers found PFAS chemical exposure in the water in 43 states

13H ago

Tiny T. rex cousin identified 21 years after fossil discovery

Suskityrannus hazelae weighed between 45 and 90 pounds and roamed the earth 20 million years before the nine-ton T. rex

May 6

1 million species at risk of extinction, U.N. report warns

A new United Nations report presents some troubling predictions for the planet

May 6

SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

SpaceX delivers 5,500 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station

May 6

Nature up close: A red fox family in Yellowstone

A pair of foxes and their kits provide photographers with a surprisingly up-close-and-personal view of fox life, and death

May 3

Purdue CEO cast blame on opioid victims in old emails

"Abusers aren't victims; they are the victimizers," member of family that owns the maker of OxyContin wrote in 2001

11H ago

Study finds contaminated drinking water in 43 states

An environmental non-profit and university researchers found PFAS chemical exposure in the water in 43 states

13H ago

Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, CDC says

More women in the U.S. are dying from pregnancy-related​ causes, and many deaths could be prevented, according to new data

13H ago

Separating sunscreen fact from fiction

A new report is raising concerns about the ingredients in sunscreen, but it's still an essential part of protecting yourself against skin cancer

16H ago

Attention, pet owners: Walmart will see your furry friend now

Retailer launching online pet pharmacy and in-store veterinary clinics as it looks to tap into a lucrative market

15H ago

Tax figures show Trump business losses of $1.17 billion over 10 years, report says

The New York Times said the president lost more money than "nearly any other individual American" between 1985 and 1994

7H ago

Will Uber drivers profit from tech company's big IPO?

Already-rich investors are poised to win big-time, but the outcome for drivers who fuel the company is less favorable

11H ago

After wave of employee suicides, company execs face charges

Former president of France Telecom defends himself against accusations of "moral harassment"

11H ago

Lyft first-quarter revenues beat expectations, but reports loss

Heavy spending during the ride-hailing company's first reporting period since its IPO led to a $212 million loss

11H ago

Purdue CEO cast blame on opioid victims in old emails

"Abusers aren't victims; they are the victimizers," member of family that owns the maker of OxyContin wrote in 2001

11H ago

Kim Kardashian West helps free 17 inmates in 90 days

Kim Kardashian West​ has stayed committed to her pledge to fight for prison reform, helping lawyers free 17 inmates from federal prison

4H ago

Colorado school shooting turns deadly

Officials said late Tuesday that an 18-year-old student has been killed in a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school. Others were wounded and two suspects were taken into custody. CBSN's Tanya Rivero has the latest.

8H ago 01:06

New arrest video surfaces of woman who was found dead in jail

Video recorded by Sandra Bland shows for the first time her perspective as a state trooper points his stun gun at her during controversial traffic stop

9H ago

Several hurt, 2 in custody in Colorado shooting

Gunfire erupted Tuesday inside a suburban Denver middle school not far from Columbine High School, wounding eight people before two students were taken into custody, authorities said. Steffan Tubbs, a reporter with KNUS Radio, joins CBSN's Tanya Rivero with the latest details.

8H ago 14:47

New video shows Sandra Bland's arrest

New video shows a 2015 traffic stop which led to Sandra Bland's arrest and days later, her death in a Texas cell. The trooper who arrested her said he feared for his safety. But as Mireya Villarreal reports, this video seems to tell a different story.

10H ago 02:08

SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

SpaceX delivers 5,500 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station

May 6

SpaceX launches unpiloted cargo ship to space station

The Dragon is loaded with nearly 5,500 pounds of equipment

May 4

SpaceX confirms crew spacecraft destroyed in test mishap

Crew Dragon spacecraft was being prepared for in-flight test of emergency abort system when something went terribly wrong

May 2

Blue Origin launches rocket with NASA payloads

Company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos aims to send private citizens and scientists into space

May 2

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

Apr 30

Met Gala 2019: Red carpet looks

See what all your favorite celebrities wore to fashion's biggest night

May 6 80 photos

Dale Pike murder: Evidence photos in the case against Enrico Forti

In 1998, Dale Pike came to Miami to discuss a business deal with Enrico Forti — the next day he was dead, and Forti was the prime suspect

May 3 17 photos

Worst movie sequels since 2000, ranked

These are the lowest-rated sequels this century, according to Metacritic's rankings

Apr 30 51 photos

Private secrets shared via postcard

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors with something to get off their chest have sent postcards to the website PostSecret.com

Apr 28 32 photos

Met Gala: Craziest looks of all time

The bigger the tiara – or pope hat – the better! (Just ask Rihanna, Katy Perry or Sarah Jessica Parker… )

Apr 26 47 photos

Popular

Dems threaten to hold Don McGahn in contempt

President Donald Trump's struggle with Democratic lawmakers intensified Tuesday, with the White House directing former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena and the chair of the House Judiciary Committee threatening to hold him in contempt. Tanya Rivero has the latest.

7H ago 00:41

Trump lost $1 billion in a decade, report says

Tax information shows President Trump's businesses ran up more than $1 billion in losses over a period of 10 years in the 1980s and 90s, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Citing printouts from the president's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax transcripts obtained by the paper, The Times said Mr. Trump reported approximately $1.17 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994.

7H ago 00:55

Colorado school shooting turns deadly

Officials said late Tuesday that an 18-year-old student has been killed in a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school. Others were wounded and two suspects were taken into custody. CBSN's Tanya Rivero has the latest.

8H ago 01:06

Trade war fears rattle stock market

President Trump is threatening to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, rattling investtors and causing the Dow to plunge. Melissa Arm, founder and owner of The Stock Swoosh, LLC, joined CBSN to talk about the possible impacts that these tariffs could have on the U.S. economy.

7H ago 08:01

Venezuelan boy makes purse out of money

CBS News' Adriana Diaz found a 13-year-old boy in Caracas, Venezuela, making a purse out of paper bills — because he said the money has no value anymore.

8H ago 00:51