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L.A. County D.A. Gascón Vows ‘Efforts To Transform A Dated Approach’ Are ‘Just Beginning’

L.A. County D.A. Gascón Vows ‘Efforts To Transform A Dated Approach’ Are ‘Just Beginning’

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón reached his 100th day in office on Wednesday and held a virtual press conference touting his policy changes that shook up the nation’s largest criminal justice jurisdiction.

“Since I took office, I’ve instituted a series of reforms based on data and science that will enhance the safety of our community while reducing racial disparities and the misuse of incarceration,” Gascón said. “Our efforts to transform a dated approach that creates more crime, more victims, and inequities are just beginning.”After Gascón took the oath on December 7, he announced a set of special directives that sparked an immediate revolt from deputy DAs in his own office, as well as families impacted by violent crime, and motivated a recall effort.

One of his most controversial moves was ending all sentencing enhancements, which act as extra punishments added on to an underlying charge. The order, which was not part of his campaign platform, banned prosecutors from filing enhancements and required they be withdrawn from pending matters. A public outcry helped persuade Gascón to re-evaluate that directive and swiftly reinstated the use of some enhancements for cases involving “the most vulnerable” victims. Still, there are more than 100 enhancements in California’s penal code.

“Enhancements are no longer sought in most cases as research suggests that excessive sentences don’t enhance safety but do exacerbate recidivism, leading to more victims of crime,” Gascón said during the news conference.Gascón cited statistics that compared his first three months in office to the same period last year, which he said showed a 71% reduction in enhancements filed. He said the drop eliminated “over 8,000 years of unnecessary prison exposure time.”

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