Kamala Harris's Secret Weapon
BY Neal Broverman
February 03 2011 4:20 PM ET
office like the 46-year-old mixed-race Harris, who narrowly defeated
63-year-old Steve Cooley, a Prop. 8 supporter.
Silard will now
help Harris work on one of California’s biggest issues — overcrowded
prisons. Harris supports education and rehabilitation rather than simply
sending repeat offenders back to jail, seeing this as a better
investment. This approach should especially be utilized when it comes to
California’s female inmates, Silard believes.
“We have more
women behind bars in California then anywhere in the world,” Silard
says. “In California about 70% of women in state prisons have never
had a serious, violent, or sexual offense — these are drug offenders,
low-level property offenders — this is coming at an enormous cost for
While guiding Harris’s antirecidivism efforts, Silard has
also signed on as part of her civil rights transition team. When the
two worked together at the DA’s office in San Francisco, they
established a unit to deal with same-sex domestic violence and held a
national conference on combating the “gay panic” and “trans panic”
defenses used by some attorneys.
Aside from making sure Prop. 8
doesn’t rear its head again — it’s currently in a federal appeals court —
Silard wants to work with local police departments to make sure gay
people in rural parts of California are protected from antigay bias and
“[In rural parts of the state] you probably care
deeply about gay marriage, but, frankly, you’re probably facing very real
and urgent issues around your physical safety, let alone your basic
employment and housing rights,” Silard says. “We’ll be making sure these
wonderful standards of LGBT protections we’ve developed in San
Francisco and Los Angeles are utilized all over the state.”
Click here to find out more about Silard and the Rosenberg Foundation.