Los Angeles has just elected a liberal prosecutor, it is already facing a recall effort.
Los Angeles, under Mr. Gascón’s predecessor, Jackie Lacey, has maintained a more punitive approach to crime and in recent years has sent people to state prisons at a rate four times that of San Francisco.
Mr Gascón, who won Ms Lacey’s post by a large majority in November, often recounts how, as an officer, he found himself locking up several generations of black men from the same family. Over time his perspective on crime and punishment changed, and he said he considered his job as a district attorney to be to repair the damage of that time, especially for black communities. and Latinos from Los Angeles.
“These days continue to haunt me,” he said of his time as an officer in his inaugural address.
Mr Gascón points to data which shows that long sentences increase recidivism and thus make the public less safe – a direct rebuttal to those who support the recall in the name of public safety. He believes that most people, even some who have been convicted of violent crimes and especially those who committed their crimes when they were young, deserve a second chance. He has also vowed to do more to hold police accountable for on-duty shootings and is reviewing past cases in which Ms Lacey has refused to prosecute.
Mr Gascón said his office will carefully assess whether a person is fit for release, either because of their advanced age or because they are model detainees, and people still considered dangerous to the public will not be released sooner. And judges and parole boards would have the final say.
Already, in his first three months in office, prosecutors have asked for around 8,000 years less in prison compared to the same period a year ago by eliminating many so-called improvements – special circumstances such as l use of a firearm in a crime or gang previous affiliations or crimes under the ‘law of three strikes’, a mainstay of the war on crime of an earlier era – which can add years to a hardly.
Eliminating the improvements has perhaps elicited the most anger from its own prosecutors, who form the largest office in the country. A lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Assistant Attorney’s Association resulted in the judge ruling largely in favor of the union, saying that in most of the cases pending before Mr. Gascón took office, he cannot order prosecutors to eliminate the improvements.
Richard Ceballos, a longtime assistant prosecutor prosecuting gang cases, said he was outraged when the new administration ordered him to suppress a gang improvement in a case in which an alleged member of the MS-13 gang was accused of stabbing a transgender woman in MacArthur Park. He briefly ran for the top position before leaving the race in 2020 and endorsed Mr. Gascón.