Keeda Haynes may make history as the first African American woman to be elected in Tennessee. However, she isn’t concerned with being the first. Her main focus is being an impact.
Keeda Haynes spent years behind bars for Marijuana charges. When we say years we are talking about 4 to 6 years on a drug that is now legal.
Keeda wants to reform the justice system and with her experience and having what she considered a good defense team she is more than equipped.
Not only has she had first hand experience with the justice system but she has also formerly put effort towards the justice reform before Kim Kardashian West became an open advocate.
Haynes told CNBC that a few years ago, she wrote a letter to Congressman Jim Cooper, who she’s running against in the primary, offering to volunteer with him and other members of Congress to work on criminal justice reform.
“We met for 15 minutes and I never heard from him again,” Haynes says, adding that since Cooper has been in office she doesn’t believe enough focus has been given to the criminal justice system in their district.
Cooper confirmed with CNBC Make It that Haynes did in fact send him a letter in 2016. At the time, he says, “I was already working on voting rights issues — including restoration of rights for formerly incarcerated individuals — so we had a good discussion. I have continued to work with local judges and our DA on these issues, and we are making progress in Nashville. Our correspondence continued when my office followed up to assist her with a tour of the White House.”
She went on to say, “When you look at what’s going on in the federal system when it comes to the mandatory minimum sentencing law, we are seeing a record number of people being locked up,” she says. “The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and we still have not reconciled what the fictitious war on drugs has done to Black and Brown communities.”
In addition to focusing on criminal justice reform, Haynes says if elected to Congress she wants to work on fixing the “health-care crisis we’re experiencing now” as there are currently a record number of people living without health insurance.
“People are having to make the necessary decisions about whether they’re going to be purchasing the medicine they need or whether they’re going to pay their mortgage or car payments,” she says. “Those are issues that I don’t think people should have to consider. I think health care is human rights and we need people in Congress who are going to act upon that.”
Keeda Haynes says she doesn’t care about being the first anything because all that matters is making sure justice is served and reform for the good of the people.
“Being the first anything doesn’t mean anything to me,” she says. “What I want people to remember me as is not just being the first African American female from this district, but being the first African American female from this district that went to Congress and got things done for people in this district because being the first means nothing if you’re not going to fulfill the duty of the position that you’re the first in.”