Singer and activist John Legend recently began “paying close attention” to elections for district attorneys and prosecutors, saying they are “crucial to changing our justice system.”
On Wednesday, Legend threw his support behind five candidates in Arizona, Florida, and Michigan, including Victoria Burton-Harris, a Detroit-based attorney who is running to unseat Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
“Victoria Burton-Harris believes no person in Wayne County should be in jail simply because they can't afford bail, or fear that their child will end up in handcuffs after a schoolyard game,” Legend tweeted.
Victoria Burton-Harris believes no person in Wayne County should be in jail simply because they can't afford bail, or fear that their child will end up in handcuffs after a schoolyard game. Vote for @VBH4Prosecutor by August 4.— John Legend (@johnlegend) July 8, 2020
See her full platform here: https://t.co/fAM2WNKDMX
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Burton-Harris for prosecutor, saying “we need district attorneys and prosecutors who understand that their job is not throwing people in jail but that their job is fighting for justice.”
Burton-Harris, who has used the criminal justice system to fight against racial and income inequalities, says Legend’s endorsement “is proof that our message of change and real justice is resonating everywhere.”
“I’m a big fan of John Legend’s work and commitment to social justice,” Burton-Harris says in a news release. “I am humbled to receive his endorsement.”
Burton-Harris is among a growing number of progressive prosecuting attorney candidates nationwide who are calling for restorative justice, eliminating the cash bail system, ending mass incarceration, prosecuting abusive cops, and closing racial disparities. Burton-Harris showed her support for local protesters who have been marching against police brutality and racial injustice in the criminal justice system.
“It’s not just about the police; this is a system,” Burton-Harris told protesters in Detroit last month. “Wayne County is responsible for prosecuting and convicting the most innocent people out of all of Michigan counties combined. That is brutality.”
The primary election is Aug. 4.
Born in Flint, Burton-Harris graduated from Flint Southwestern Academy. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 with majors in political science and African-American studies. She is a 2012 graduate of Wayne State University Law School. She lives in Detroit with her husband, Robert Burton-Harris, and their 2-year-old son, Langston.
On her campaign's fundraising page, Burton-Harris is described as dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system.
"After years of witnessing over-charging, requests for excessive bail, and prosecutorial vindictiveness, Victoria realized that her efforts to end mass incarceration as a criminal defense attorney would never be sufficient," the page states. "Effective change requires a transformation in the gatekeeper to the criminal justice system – the county prosecutor."
Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.