When The Washington Post published a 2019 campaign trail feature about then-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris’ close relationship with her sister, it opened with a memorable anecdote in which Harris bizarrely compared the rigors of the campaign trail to…life behind bars.
And then proceeded to laugh—at the idea of an inmate begging for a sip of water.
It was an extremely cringeworthy moment, even by the high standards set by Harris’ failed presidential campaign. But now that Harris is vice president, that awful moment has seemingly vanished from the Post’s website after the paper “updated” the piece earlier this month.
Here’s how the first seven paragraphs of that article, published by the Post on July 23, 2019, and bylined by features reporter Ben Terris, originally appeared:
It was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and Kamala Harris was explaining to her sister, Maya, that campaigns are like prisons.
She’d been recounting how in the days before the Democratic debate in Miami life had actually slowed down to a manageable pace. Kamala, Maya and the rest of the team had spent three days prepping for that contest in a beach-facing hotel suite, where they closed the curtains to blot out the fun. But for all the hours of studying policy and practicing the zingers that would supercharge her candidacy, the trip allowed for a break in an otherwise all-encompassing schedule.
“I actually got sleep,” Kamala said, sitting in a Hilton conference room, beside her sister, and smiling as she recalled walks on the beach with her husband and that one morning SoulCycle class she was able to take.
“That kind of stuff,” Kamala said between sips of iced tea, “which was about bringing a little normal to the days, that was a treat for me.”
“I mean, in some ways it was a treat,” Maya said. “But not really.”
“It’s a treat that a prisoner gets when they ask for, ‘A morsel of food please,’ ” Kamala said shoving her hands forward as if clutching a metal plate, her voice now trembling like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell. “‘And water! I just want wahtahhh….’Your standards really go out the f—ing window.”
Kamala burst into laughter.
It should go without saying that choosing to run for the most powerful political office in the world is absolutely nothing like being behind bars—and getting to squeeze in a morning SoulCycle session before sitting down for an interview with a national newspaper is not remotely the same as dying of thirst. None of this is funny.
Lee Michael Creely, 34, was a good man, a father of two sons, and excited to have saved enough to move into his new home with his partner, Jessica Hodges, and their children. However, because Creely forgot to immediately tell his probation officer that he upgraded from a trailer into a new home, Creely would spend his last days alive dying in Chatham County lockup.
In August, Creely and his family finally saved up enough money to move out of their mobile home and into a new home so their sons, aged 12 and 7, could have their own rooms. Likely due to the fact that they were so excited to have upgraded their home, Creely forgot to tell his probation officer that he moved, setting off a chain of events that would lead to his untimely death.
To be clear, Creely shouldn’t have even been on probation. He was convicted of having a substance deemed illegal by the state, otherwise known as drug possession. There were no victims for the “crime” to which Creely found himself pleading guilty. Nevertheless, after his probation officer noticed Creely moved and didn’t notify him, Creely was arrested on Sept. 3.
Three days after his arrest, Creely — a young father of two — would be found dead in his jail cell. The cause of death was unknown.
Creely’s family is now going after the jail and demanding answers. One massive answer they are demanding to know is the location of his heart. Literally, his heart. According to the family’s attorney, an independent autopsy revealed that Creely’s heart was missing from his body after he died in jail. What’s more, the coroner refuses to explain what happened to it, according to the family.
Granite City is one of thousands of municipalities across 48 states—from El Cajon, California to nearly 50 towns in the Twin Cities metro area and Appleton, Wisconsin to Norristown, Pennsylvania and beyond—that have enacted similar ordinances, according to the International Crime Free Association, whose founder developed the crime-free model in the early 1990s.
Sometimes known as nuisance property ordinances, these laws can take slightly different forms but their goals are often the same: to penalize landlords and tenants by encouraging or requiring eviction for contact with the criminal legal system, including suspected criminal activity and calls for police services. These ordinances often encourage or require private landlords to evict tenants as a result. In many places, tenants are often required to sign an addendum to their lease agreement, acknowledging the law and agreeing to its consequences.
Last year President Donald Trump bragged that “we are making progress” in reducing opioid-related deaths, noting that they fell in 2018 “for the first time since 1990.” That 1.7 percent drop was thin evidence of success at the time, and it looks even less impressive in light of the the 6.5 percent increase recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019. When you add preliminary CDC data indicating that opioid-related deaths rose dramatically this year, you have even more reason to wonder whether the government is actually winning the war on drugs.
The 49,860 deaths involving opioids that the CDC counted in 2019 set a new record that is likely to be broken when the data for 2020 are finalized. “Synthetic opioids other than methadone,” the category that includes fentanyl and its analogs, were involved in 73 percent of opioid-related deaths last year. According to the CDC’s preliminary data, “the 12-month count of synthetic opioid deaths increased 38.4% from the 12 months ending in June 2019 compared with the 12 months ending in May 2020.”
During the same period, total drug-related deaths rose by 18 percent. Although that includes increases in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine, the CDC says, “synthetic opioids are the primary driver,” and “the increases in drug overdose deaths appear to have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.” As Zachary Siegel notes in a New York magazine piece, the pandemic and the lockdowns it inspired probably have driven drug-related deaths in two main ways: by contributing to the economic woes and social isolation that make drug use more appealing and by increasing the likelihood that people will use drugs without anyone else around, which magnifies the risk of fatal outcomes.
Although the pandemic and the restrictions associated with it have made matters worse, opioid-related deaths were already on the rise, which suggests once again that reducing access to prescription pain pills, the main thrust of the Trump administration’s strategy, has not had the intended effect. To the contrary, it has driven nonmedical users toward black-market substitutes that are more dangerous because their potency is inconsistent and unpredictable, while depriving bona fide patients of the medication they need to make their lives bearable.