By Linh Nguyen
LOS ANGELES – Commending his commitment to progressive justice reform, the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Union announced its support for George Gascón’s campaign for district attorney of Los Angeles County.
Gascón is running against the county’s incumbent district attorney, Jackie Lacey. Gascón served as the district attorney for San Francisco County from 2011 to 2019, succeeded by Chesa Boudin.
The Los Angeles County Public Defenders Union made this announcement on Sep. 24 on Twitter.
“We are proud to announce our support of [George Gascón] for Los Angeles County District Attorney,” they wrote. “Our members serve in every community across LA county and have witnessed firsthand the disastrous effects of regressive prosecutorial policies.”
“[George Gascón] has shown a commitment to ending the death penalty, eliminating racist and discriminatory gang sentencing enhancements, prohibiting retaliatory prosecution of those who speak out against the police, and keeping children out of the criminal legal system…(he) supports alternatives to incarceration. We know that the changes Gascón has pledged to enact are vital to the health and safety of ALL people of LA County.”
The public defenders noted, “It is highly unusual for public defenders to advocate for or endorse a candidate for district attorney. But, this year has underscored the urgency for new leadership at the LA County District Attorney’s Office, an agency with a jurisdiction of over 10 million people.
“Communities that have disproportionately suffered from mass incarceration policies cannot endure any more empty rhetoric and broken promises of reform. The time to change is now. Vote [George Gascón] for LA District Attorney.”
In reference to Gascón’s plan to end the death penalty, he has promised he will not seek an execution date for any person already on death row and that he will support Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions. Furthermore, he stated that he will work to resentence many of the 229 people currently on death row from Los Angeles County to a sentence other than death.
“I will do this by utilizing every legal avenue available to me including; exercising my discretion to drop the death penalty in ongoing cases that have been reversed on guilt or penalty phase, by collaborating with the attorney general to concede habeas petitions with meritorious claims, and by working with the governor and the courts where necessary to pursue fair and just sentences in as many cases as legally possible,” Gascón said in a press release.
As for “keeping children out of the adult criminal legal system,” Gascón is referring to young adults aged 18 to 24 and how the criminal justice system unfairly places them at a disadvantage due to delayed neurological development.
Gascón argues that neurological immaturity may contribute to criminal behavior and adult sentences constitute cruel and unusual punishment and undermine the possibility of rehabilitation.
Instead, Gascón proposes establishing Young Adult Court, a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders ages 18 to 24. Gascón already established a Young Adult Court in San Francisco County in 2015.
In addition, as stated in the tweet series, Gascón is campaigning on eliminating racist and discriminatory gang sentencing enhancements, and prohibiting retaliatory prosecution of those who speak out against the police and alternatives to incarceration.
Gascón is also outspoken on protecting sexual assault victims and holding abusers accountable, addressing police violence, holding law enforcement accountable, increasing police and prosecutorial transparency, behavioral health and homelessness, law enforcement’s role during COVID-19, victim support, environmental justice and immigration.
Other prominent figures who publicly endorsed Gascón include the California Democratic Party, Gavin Newsom, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and former LA Police Chief Charlie Beck.
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