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Criminal Justice

Effort To Recall DA Gascón Reboots For A Second Try

George Gascón is seen in profile. He has silver hair and wears square wire-rimmed glasses, an open-collared shirt and dark jacket.
DA George Gascón.
(Justin Sullivan
/
Getty Images)
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After failing in their first attempt to recall L.A. District Attorney George Gascón, his opponents Monday announced they intend to try again.

Recall backers served Gascón staffers with a "notice of intent" to remove him. That starts the clock on the process.

Opponents will likely be able to begin collecting signatures to place Gascón’s recall on the ballot sometime in January or February. The Registrar of Voters must approve the recall petition first. A spokesman for the campaign said it's using the same petition it used earlier this year, so approval is all but assured.

Once they get the go-ahead, the recall backers will have 160 days to collect the signatures of more than 580,000 registered voters.

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In a nod to its previous failure, the recall campaign said in a news release that it has already secured $2.5 million in donor commitments. It struggled to raise enough money last time around to pay for signature collection.

With the promised infusion of cash, "this effort starts out ahead of the curve," the group said.

It listed former L.A. DA Steve Cooley and former L.A. City Councilmember Dennis Zine as co-chairs of the campaign. L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva had supported the previous recall effort.

Gascón has sparked a firestorm of criticism as well as profuse praise of his policies of seeking shorter prison terms for most serious and violent felons. The policies are designed to roll back draconian laws and address mass incarceration of mostly Black and Latino men.

Critics say the DA is threatening public safety. The recall's notice of intention claims Gascón "has deserted crime victims and their families," arguing that his policies "treat career and repeat violent offenders as if they had never committed a crime."

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Cristine DeBerry, executive director of the reformist Prosecutors Alliance of California, issued a statement Monday blasting the recall effort. Gascón is a founding member of the group.

"Recall proponents stand for more punishment, not more safety," DeBerry said. "Dated, tough-on-crime approaches have not made our communities safer, but have produced insecurity and instability that has increased recidivism rates and exacerbated homelessness in our communities … It's time to stop the finger pointing and work with us on prevention and problem solving."

Gascón is the most prominent of a new cadre of progressive prosecutors across the county, and he's not the only one facing a backlash. Critics of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin have collected enough signatures to place his recall on the ballot.

What questions do you have about criminal justice and public safety in Southern California?
Frank Stoltze covers a new movement for criminal justice reform at a time when not everybody shares the same vision.