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March 17, 2021: District Attorney Gascón Outlines Reforms Made During First 100 Days in Office, Promises More

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Greg Risling, Assistant Media Chief
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Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón today reflected on the sweeping criminal justice reforms he has made during his first 100 days in office and announced plans to implement new approaches that bolster police accountability and victims’ services.

In the three months since he has been in office, District Attorney Gascón has abolished the death penalty, ended the practice of prosecuting children as adults and done away with enhancements in most cases that exacerbate recidivism.

“I have instituted a series of reforms based on data and science that will enhance safety while reducing racial disparities and the misuse of incarceration,” District Attorney Gascón said. “Our efforts to transform a dated approach that creates more crime, victims and inequities are just beginning.”

Among the accomplishments District Attorney Gascón has achieved since being sworn in on December 7, 2020, include:

  • No longer seeking the death penalty in 17 active cases
  • Withdrawing 77 pending motions to transfer minors to adult court
  • Convening the office’s first Crime Victims Advisory Board

Additionally, there has been a 71 percent reduction in enhancements filed by the office when comparing a three-month span between December 2020 and February 2021 to the same period the prior year. Conservative estimates suggest the reduction equates to more than 8,000 years of unnecessary exposure and the three-month cost savings are projected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

District Attorney Gascón also recently asked all law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County to turn over their list of officers accused of misconduct.

He pledged to root out corruption in government and recently filed charges against the former mayor of Maywood and 10 others.

He was joined today by LaNaisha Edwards, the Los Angeles chapter coordinator of the Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, and Lenora Claire, an activist and survivor of violent crime. Both sit on the Crime Victims Advisory Board.

District Attorney Gascón hopes to expand the capacity of the office’s Bureau of Victim Services and work with the advisory board to explore technological solutions to notify crime survivors more expeditiously.

“I want to thank District Attorney Gascón for providing an opportunity for victims and survivors to have their voices heard,” Edwards said. “Together, we are working to build a system that prioritizes healing.”

“We will work to improve ways that crime survivors receive information and access to resources,” Claire said. “We will listen to the needs of the community and make recommendations to ensure they receive services and support during their difficult time.”

District Attorney Gascón also was joined by Dr. Rahn Minagawa, an expert in adolescent brain development, who said trauma, substance use and other factors should be weighed in juvenile hearings.

“As a specialist in adolescent brain development, high-risk youth and trauma, I am honored to assist the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in its efforts to support and rehabilitate justice-involved young people,” Minagawa said. “Transfer laws have not been shown to deter crime and a summary of six large-scale studies found greater overall recidivism rates among juveniles who were prosecuted as adults than among matched youth who were retained in the juvenile system.”

In the year ahead, District Attorney Gascón plans to make further changes to improve transparency and accountability.

He noted he plans to retain Lawrence Middleton, a former federal prosecutor, who will serve as an independent special prosecutor to review egregious past incidents of use of force by law enforcement officers.

District Attorney Gascón wants to boost staffing to review potentially wrongful convictions and launch a community-based group to review officer-involved fatalities.

He also announced that his office is partnering with the community and the Los Angeles Police Department to implement new measures that will include embedding veteran prosecutors in communities to help reduce violence.

A pre-filing diversion program is being created for those who are homeless, suffer from substance use or a mental disorder. The program will be offered at 10 law enforcement locations and once screened, individuals will be referred for onsite services. Cases will not be filed against those who complete the program.

“We are doing all of this because the science and data tell us so,” he said. “We can truly enhance public safety, increase equity, expand victim services and strengthen police accountability.”

Some of the studies that have been referenced as part of District Attorney Gascón’s reforms are:

http://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/201904-CALIFORNIA-REPORT-FINAL-FINAL.pdf

http://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/recidivism-of-felony-offenders-in-california.pdf

http://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/five-things-about-deterrence#four

http://www.vera.org/downloads/Publications/confronting-confinement/legacy_downloads/Confronting_Confinement.pdf