In recent years, Los Angeles has sent four times as many people to state prison as San Francisco, thanks in part to Jackie Lacey, Mr. Gascón’s predecessor.
Mr. Gascón, who defeated Ms. Lacey in November by a large margin, often recalls his experiences as a police officer incarcerating multiple generations of Black men from the same family. In the course of time, his views on crime and punishment changed, and he said he sees it as his duty as district attorney to undo the damage of that time, particularly for the Black and Latino communities in Los Angeles.
“Those days still haunt me,” he said in his inauguration speech, referring to his time as an officer.
Those who support the recall on the basis of public safety will see Mr. Gascón’s data as a direct rebuttal, as it shows that long sentences actually increase recidivism and thus endanger the public’s safety. This man believes in second chances for the majority of people, including violent criminals and especially juvenile offenders. On the subject of police shootings while on duty, he has pledged to do more and is currently reviewing cases that Ms. Lacey declined to prosecute.
Whether a person is suitable for release due to advanced age or because they are model inmates will be carefully weighed by Mr. Gascón’s office, he said, and those still believed to be dangerous to the public will not be released early. The final say would rest with judges and parole boards.
By eliminating many so-called “enhancements,” which include special circumstances such as gun use, gang affiliations, or prior felonies under the “three strikes law,” a pillar of an earlier era’s war on crime, prosecutors have sought roughly 8,000 less years in prison than they did in the same period last year.
His own prosecutors, who make up the country’s largest office, have been the most enraged by the elimination of enhancements. When the Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney’s Association filed a lawsuit against Mr. Gascón in an attempt to force him to remove the enhancements from many of the cases currently under investigation, a judge found in their favour.
When the new administration ordered him to drop the gang enhancement in a case where an MS-13 suspect is accused of stabbing a transgender woman in MacArthur Park, deputy district attorney Richard Ceballos was outraged, according to Ceballos. He endorsed Mr. Gascón after briefly running for the presidency in 2020.