Meet the DA

This video also is available in SpanishChineseKorean and Armenian.

George Gascón is the 43rd District Attorney for Los Angeles County.

He took office on Dec. 7, 2020, and immediately instituted a series of policies based on science, data and research to bring change within the criminal legal system. He is working to build a national model of criminal justice reform that supports and restores crime victims and survivors while addressing mass incarceration, racism and social systemic inequities. Throughout these historic reforms, public safety has been the overriding priority.

On his first day in office, Gascón ended the use of the death penalty as a sentence in Los Angeles County; stopped charging children as adults; eliminated many sentencing enhancements that do not benefit public safety and contribute to mass incarceration; and removed cash bail for misdemeanor or nonserious or nonviolent felony offenses under California law as determined by the California Supreme Court in its People v. Humphrey decision.

In his first year, Gascón’s accomplishments include:

  • Implementing trauma-informed resources for victims and survivors of crime
  • Embedding deputy district attorneys into communities beset by violence so they may work on systemically improving the lives of residents
  • Launching a centralized criminal charge evaluation system to ensure greater consistency and fairness countywide in the filing of charges
  • Identifying nearly 60,000 cannabis convictions that are eligible for dismissal
  • Diverting many misdemeanors associated with substance abuse, poverty and mental illness out of the criminal legal system
  • Holding accountable law enforcement officers who violate the law and ensuring their misconduct is disclosed to the defense in cases in which they are witnesses
  • Convening advisory boards to give voice to constituents, including those representing crime victims and the LGBTQ, African American and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

In 1967, at the age of 13, Gascón boarded a “freedom flight” with his mother and father from Havana, Cuba, to Miami. They had nothing more than the clothes on their backs and a change of underwear that they carried in a cardboard suitcase. Within a week his family moved to Southeast Los Angeles to settle in Cudahy.

As a monolingual Spanish speaker, Gascón struggled to keep up with schoolwork and he ultimately dropped out of high school and started bagging groceries. Once he turned 18, Gascón joined the U.S. Army and quickly became the youngest sergeant in his brigade. He earned his high school diploma while simultaneously taking college extension courses, and after earning a history degree from Cal State Long Beach, Gascón got a job as a patrol officer in the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Over the next three decades, he worked his way up the ranks of the LAPD from patrol officer to Assistant Chief of Police under Bill Bratton. As Assistant Chief, he oversaw operations for the more than 9,000 LAPD officers, overseeing major homicide and gang investigations and weeding out corruption following the infamous Rampart scandal. Then, in 2006, he was tapped to be Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, where he stood up to the hateful and anti-immigrant policies of then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón to be San Francisco’s Chief of Police. Two years later, Newsom again turned to Gascón to fill a vacancy created when then-District Attorney Kamala Harris was elected California Attorney General. Gascón was re-elected San Francisco District Attorney twice. He was the first Latino to hold that office, and the nation’s first Police Chief to become District Attorney.

In the many positions Gascón has held throughout his career – from Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department to Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, and San Francisco, and District Attorney for San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties – his commitment to fairness, service and public safety has remained steadfast.

Gascón has led the growing movement of progressive prosecutors. He was the first District Attorney in the nation to call for an end of cash bail and to launch an automatic record clearing program for marijuana convictions following legalization and the only District Attorney in California to support a state law that created a stricter standard for when police can use deadly force. Gascón never shied away from holding the powerful accountable, creating the state’s first independent investigation bureau to enhance transparency and limit the conflict of interest that occurs when police investigate themselves in the aftermath of a critical incident.

He has earned a national reputation as a visionary in criminal justice reform. Today, Gascón and his work are defined by the same notions of fairness, public safety, service and critical thought that have been consistent throughout his life. In addition to his criminal justice work at the local, state and national levels, Gascón has worked on public safety initiatives in Latin America and the Middle East. He is a board member of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute and a member of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.

After serving two terms as San Francisco District Attorney, he returned to Los Angeles to care for his elderly mother and to be closer to his daughters and grandchildren in Long Beach. He entered the race for District Attorney to enhance the safety and livability of Los Angeles and bring equal justice to his hometown.

Gascón is married to Fabiola Kramsky, a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and recipient of the “Premio Nacional de Periodismo,” the highest recognition given to journalists in Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Western State University, College of Law.

February 2022