LOS ANGELES – Today, following the Los Angeles District Attorney’s announcement that she was dismissing 66,000 marijuana convictions, George Gascón released the following statement:
“Government shouldn’t wait for the people to take action, it should take action for the people. Today, prior to state law forcing her hand, the District Attorney finally dismissed these convictions.
For years, and in spite of legalization, individuals were denied employment and housing opportunities because of old marijuana convictions. Lack of access to a job and housing are primary factors that drive recidivism, and that’s why I took this action two years ago; it enhanced community safety and equity. That’s also why it sparked a national movement.
Between freeing a man seven years after receiving notice of his innocence, claiming support for reforms after they became law, or dismissing marijuana convictions after telling the public to do it themselves, we are not witnessing a profile in courage, we are seeing a vacuum of leadership. This two-year delay is indicative of a dated approach that prioritizes punishment at all costs, even when it comes at the expense of hope, opportunity, rehabilitation, and community safety.”
George Gascón grew up in Los Angeles after his family immigrated from Cuba. An army veteran, Gascón served as a Los Angeles Police Department Officer for 30 years, rising to the rank of Assistant Chief of Operations. In 2006 he became 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-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón Chief of Police. Newsom turned to Gascón again in 2011 when he tapped him to be District Attorney to fill the seat vacated by an outgoing Kamala Harris who had been elected Attorney General. During his tenure Gascón implemented reforms that are being duplicated across the country while overseeing violent crime and homicides drop to rates not seen in 50 years. After being elected to two terms, Gascón returned to Los Angeles to care for his elderly mother and to be closer to his two daughters and grandchildren in Long Beach. 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.