DA-Elect Gascón Takes The Oath Today With Promise to Lock Up Fewer People
George Gascón, a Cuban immigrant and one-time hard-charging LAPD cop who became a champion of criminal justice reform, will be sworn in as the 43rd district attorney of Los Angeles County today at noon.
Gascón defeated incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey in the Nov. 3 election. His election has been compared to that of Tom Bradley, who became L.A.’s first Black mayor in 1973.
But it’s not Gascón's race or ethnicity that makes his electoral victory so significant – although he is the first immigrant in modern history to serve as District Attorney. Instead, it is his progressive agenda, which stands in stark contrast to D.A.’s of the past.
Gascón will take the reins of the nation’s largest local prosecutor’s office and one that has sent more people to state prison than almost any other. He has promised to change that by filing charges against fewer people who are arrested for lower-level crimes. He also plans to end use of so-called sentencing enhancements, which saddle gang members and other people with extra prison time.
The D.A.-elect also plans to no longer seek the death penalty, end demanding bail from people accused of misdemeanors and some felonies before their release, and begin holding police officers more accountable when they shoot people, which could lead to the prosecution of more cops.
Police unions and the association that represents rank-and-file prosecutors spent more than $5 million to defeat Gascón, arguing his policies will increase crime. Building a working relationship with them will be one of his biggest challenges – especially amid an increase in crime rates.
But Gascón will have enormous power as District Attorney. He also enters office in a year when the videotaped killing of George Floyd by police sparked a wave of street protests and demands for exactly the kinds of changes Gascón promises.
Because of the pandemic, the ceremony will be conducted virtually for the first time ever.