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Watch: Raucous Crowd Disrupts LA County District Attorney Debate

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It was a tense and contentious crowd for the first debate with all three candidates vying to be the next Los Angeles District Attorney.

A number of people were removed from the audience at the nearly full Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo. Still, the hosts persevered with questions for a little more than the originally scheduled 90 minutes.

You can re-watch (above) or watch via the KPCC and Los Angeles Times Facebook pages.

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We'll have key takeaways from the debate later, which focused on issues ranging from how to deal with homelessness and who had credentials when it came to diverting mentally ill people from jails.

THE BACKGROUND

With mail-in ballots for the March 3 primary going out in a few days, KPCC and the Los Angeles Times are teaming up to co-host a debate for candidates vying for L.A. County District Attorney.

THE CANDIDATES

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George Gascon (L), Jackie Lacey (C), and Rachel Rossi. (Photo credits, L-R: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Damian Dovarganes/AP; Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Patrisse Cullors)
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YOUR HOSTS

Libby Denkmann is the politics reporter for LAist and KPCC.

Robert Greene is an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times.

THE CANDIDATES

Gascon and Rossi are running as reformers against Lacey, whom they characterize as a traditional law-and-order prosecutor out of step with a progressive wave that has swept reformist DA’s into office in a number of cities across the country.

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The L.A. race is the latest, and biggest, fight in this battle.

The challengers say they would work in general to put fewer people in prison; they say institutional racism has led to the prosecution and imprisonment of disproportionate numbers of people of color.

Gascon and Rossi would also end cash bail and stop pursuing the death penalty. Lacey continues to seek the death penalty in some cases, and while backing bail reform, has opposed ending cash bail altogether.

Lacey, who was elected in 2012, insists she’s a progressive as well, calling herself a “reasonable reformer.” She points to her work diverting people with mental health issues away from jail. She also established a Conviction Review Unit to assess claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence.

GO DEEPER:

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