George Gasc贸n

On the Issues


George Gasc贸n has developed a national reputation as a leader of the criminal justice reform movement. Explore the topics below to learn about George鈥檚 past experience and vision for a more equitable Los Angeles.

The Big Issues:聽 My Positions At a Glance

Sexual Assault – Protecting and Holding Abusers Accountable

As District Attorney, Gasc贸n prosecuted more than double the national average of sexual assault cases and successfully聽fought聽to test every backlogged rape kit.聽 He reduced the average days to conviction by over 20% in a single year between 2016 and 2017 and implemented a Sexual Assault Response Team, enhanced office training and education on effective communication with survivors of sexual assault, created a campus sexual assault task force, and created a dedicated Child Abuse and Sexual Assault (CASA) Unit to prosecute sex crimes.聽 He brought full-time facility dogs to the office to assist victims in the most difficult of circumstances, and implemented an annual Red Zone public education campaign to promote awareness around the first six weeks of school in which college students are 50 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted than they are at any other time.聽 He聽worked with Colleges and Universities to create agreements with law enforcement and community based organizations to work together with victims in order to connect them with services as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not they choose to file a police report.聽 Gasc贸n also implemented a Safe Bars partnership which worked with staff and owners of bars, clubs and restaurants to implement a bystander intervention program.

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 proposed policies for domestic violence, sex assault, and human trafficking, by clicking聽 here.


Sexual Assault – Protecting and Holding Abusers Accountable

As District Attorney, Gasc贸n prosecuted more than double the national average of sexual assault cases and successfully聽fought聽to test every backlogged rape kit.聽 He reduced the average days to conviction by over 20% in a single year between 2016 and 2017 and implemented a Sexual Assault Response Team, enhanced office training and education on effective communication with survivors of sexual assault, created a campus sexual assault task force, and created a dedicated Child Abuse and Sexual Assault (CASA) Unit to prosecute sex crimes.聽 He brought full-time facility dogs to the office to assist victims in the most difficult of circumstances, and implemented an annual Red Zone public education campaign to promote awareness around the first six weeks of school in which college students are 50 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted than they are at any other time.聽 He聽worked with Colleges and Universities to create agreements with law enforcement and community based organizations to work together with victims in order to connect them with services as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not they choose to file a police report.聽 Gasc贸n also implemented a Safe Bars partnership which worked with staff and owners of bars, clubs and restaurants to implement a bystander intervention program.

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 proposed policies for domestic violence, sex assault, and human trafficking, by clicking聽 here.


Addressing Police Violence, Holding Law Enforcement Accountable, and Increasing Transparency

Gasc贸n began his 40-year career in law enforcement as a beat cop with the LAPD.聽 He personally faced circumstances where he could have used force but chose not to. Later he oversaw LAPD’s use of force review process, taught use of force policy to supervisors, made decisions related to suspensions and terminations as Assistant Chief of the LAPD and then as Chief of Police for two big-city police departments, and as San Francisco District Attorney he prosecuted more than 30 police officers for criminal conduct, including excessive force. He is the nation’s only former Chief of Police to be appointed DA.

Following two racist and homophobic text messaging scandals at the San Francisco Police Department, Gasc贸n launched an investigation into聽a toxic culture that enabled racism to fester and resulted in over 80 recommendations for reform, many of which the department subsequently made. Later,聽Gasc贸n created the state’s first independent investigations bureau to enhance transparency and eliminate the conflict of interest that occurs when police investigate themselves in the aftermath of a critical incident.

Mr. Gasc贸n was also the only law enforcement official in the state to advocate for successful state legislation that created a stricter standard for when police may use force.聽 Mr. Gasc贸n asked every prosecutor in California to join him in supporting the law, including incumbent DA Jackie Lacey, but he stood alone among law enforcement in pushing this necessary reform.
Gasc贸n has unparalleled expertise on this issue. Read his detailed proposal for Law Enforcement Accountability by clicking here.

Additionally, Gasc贸n has pledged to re-open four fatal officer-involved shootings that DA Lacey has declined to prosecute. Read the announcement by clicking here.聽


Addressing Police Violence, Holding Law Enforcement Accountable, and Increasing Transparency

Gasc贸n began his 40-year career in law enforcement as a beat cop with the LAPD.聽 He personally faced circumstances where he could have used force but chose not to. Later he oversaw LAPD’s use of force review process, taught use of force policy to supervisors, made decisions related to suspensions and terminations as Assistant Chief of the LAPD and then as Chief of Police for two big-city police departments, and as San Francisco District Attorney he prosecuted more than 30 police officers for criminal conduct, including excessive force. He is the nation’s only former Chief of Police to be appointed DA.

Following two racist and homophobic text messaging scandals at the San Francisco Police Department, Gasc贸n launched an investigation into聽a toxic culture that enabled racism to fester and resulted in over 80 recommendations for reform, many of which the department subsequently made. Later,聽Gasc贸n created the state’s first independent investigations bureau to enhance transparency and eliminate the conflict of interest that occurs when police investigate themselves in the aftermath of a critical incident.

Mr. Gasc贸n was also the only law enforcement official in the state to advocate for successful state legislation that created a stricter standard for when police may use force.聽 Mr. Gasc贸n asked every prosecutor in California to join him in supporting the law, including incumbent DA Jackie Lacey, but he stood alone among law enforcement in pushing this necessary reform.
Gasc贸n has unparalleled expertise on this issue. Read his detailed proposal for Law Enforcement Accountability by clicking here.

Additionally, Gasc贸n has pledged to re-open four fatal officer-involved shootings that DA Lacey has declined to prosecute. Read the announcement by clicking here.聽


Taking LADA into the 21st Century

As District Attorney, Gasc贸n would implement聽a Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) as he did in San Francisco, a multi-disciplinary team of prosecutors, analysts and investigators that use a data-driven approach to resourcefully address chronic crime and repeat offenders. CSU鈥檚 approach in San Francisco has been credited with multiple major organized crime takedowns, including Operations Wrecking Ball and聽Cold Day, the latter of which netted the most arrests in a single day ever for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a federal agency.聽 Gasc贸n would also implement a Gun Enforcement Unit (GEU) to ensure recovered weapons and ammunition is adequately mined for evidence and can be tied to crimes and dangerous persons.聽

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 report, 鈥淭ransformative Justice Prosecution Strategies to Reform the Justice System and Enhance Community Safety,鈥 by clicking聽here.


Taking LADA into the 21st Century

As District Attorney, Gasc贸n would implement聽a Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) as he did in San Francisco, a multi-disciplinary team of prosecutors, analysts and investigators that use a data-driven approach to resourcefully address chronic crime and repeat offenders. CSU鈥檚 approach in San Francisco has been credited with multiple major organized crime takedowns, including Operations Wrecking Ball and聽Cold Day, the latter of which netted the most arrests in a single day ever for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a federal agency.聽 Gasc贸n would also implement a Gun Enforcement Unit (GEU) to ensure recovered weapons and ammunition is adequately mined for evidence and can be tied to crimes and dangerous persons.聽

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 report, 鈥淭ransformative Justice Prosecution Strategies to Reform the Justice System and Enhance Community Safety,鈥 by clicking聽here.


Money Bail

Gasc贸n was the first elected prosecutor in the nation to propose an end to money bail because money is not a sufficient proxy for risk.聽 In 2016, Gasc贸n implemented the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) which makes custody decisions based on risk rather than how much money one has.聽 Statistics suggest that defendants released on money bail are about twice as likely to commit another crime pretrial compared to defendants released based on a recommendation from the tool. As a result, making these decisions based on risk rather than ability to pay is not only more equitable, it鈥檚 also yielding better results for our community鈥檚 safety. 聽 If elected, Gasc贸n will work to eliminate the use of money bail.


Money Bail

Gasc贸n was the first elected prosecutor in the nation to propose an end to money bail because money is not a sufficient proxy for risk.聽 In 2016, Gasc贸n implemented the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) which makes custody decisions based on risk rather than how much money one has.聽 Statistics suggest that defendants released on money bail are about twice as likely to commit another crime pretrial compared to defendants released based on a recommendation from the tool. As a result, making these decisions based on risk rather than ability to pay is not only more equitable, it鈥檚 also yielding better results for our community鈥檚 safety. 聽 If elected, Gasc贸n will work to eliminate the use of money bail.


On Behavioral Health and Its Nexus to Homelessness

More than half of all people incarcerated in prisons and jails have a mental illness: 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of jail inmates. Of those who have a mental illness, about three-quarters also have a co-occurring substance use disorder.聽

Correctional facilities are fundamentally places of punishment and control, not treatment and rehabilitation. By necessity, security within a jail or prison is paramount, making it difficult to create and maintain an effective system of mental health care. By virtue of their very nature鈥 from their architectural design to the manner in which they are routinely operated鈥攋ails and prisons tend to exacerbate mental illness.聽 As a result, adding treatment services to traditional jail facilities will never adequately address this inherent problem.

Ultimately, you simply cannot resolve our behavioral health crisis with a law enforcement response.聽 The use of police, prosecutors and jails results in individuals being released without adequate medication or prescriptions.聽 Failure to adequately prepare for community reentry and continuation of mental health services can exacerbate psychiatric conditions and increase the likelihood of addiction, homelessness, and recidivism.

The most widely accepted, evidence-based practice for treating such individuals is Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment, which treats both mental health and substance abuse disorders simultaneously and in the same setting.聽 Therefore, if elected I would work to implement regional Behavioral Health facilities where law enforcement would work hand in hand with public health officials.

Additionally, programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) must be expanded and embraced as they have proven to outperform traditional approaches to this difficult population. LEAD is an innovative pre-booking diversion program that refers repeat, low-level drug offenders at high risk of recidivism at the earliest contact with law enforcement to community-based health and social services as an alternative to jail and prosecution.聽聽

The program is based on a model developed in Seattle which has seen excellent results.聽聽Evaluations聽of Seattle鈥檚 program revealed that participants were聽58% less likely than people in the control group to be rearrested, and found statistically significant reductions for the LEAD group compared to the control group in average yearly criminal justice and legal system utilization and associated costs.

Read Gasc贸n’s proposed policies for Behavioral Health and its Nexus to Homelessness by clicking here.


On Behavioral Health and Its Nexus to Homelessness

More than half of all people incarcerated in prisons and jails have a mental illness: 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of jail inmates. Of those who have a mental illness, about three-quarters also have a co-occurring substance use disorder.聽

Correctional facilities are fundamentally places of punishment and control, not treatment and rehabilitation. By necessity, security within a jail or prison is paramount, making it difficult to create and maintain an effective system of mental health care. By virtue of their very nature鈥 from their architectural design to the manner in which they are routinely operated鈥攋ails and prisons tend to exacerbate mental illness.聽 As a result, adding treatment services to traditional jail facilities will never adequately address this inherent problem.

Ultimately, you simply cannot resolve our behavioral health crisis with a law enforcement response.聽 The use of police, prosecutors and jails results in individuals being released without adequate medication or prescriptions.聽 Failure to adequately prepare for community reentry and continuation of mental health services can exacerbate psychiatric conditions and increase the likelihood of addiction, homelessness, and recidivism.

The most widely accepted, evidence-based practice for treating such individuals is Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment, which treats both mental health and substance abuse disorders simultaneously and in the same setting.聽 Therefore, if elected I would work to implement regional Behavioral Health facilities where law enforcement would work hand in hand with public health officials.

Additionally, programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) must be expanded and embraced as they have proven to outperform traditional approaches to this difficult population. LEAD is an innovative pre-booking diversion program that refers repeat, low-level drug offenders at high risk of recidivism at the earliest contact with law enforcement to community-based health and social services as an alternative to jail and prosecution.聽聽

The program is based on a model developed in Seattle which has seen excellent results.聽聽Evaluations聽of Seattle鈥檚 program revealed that participants were聽58% less likely than people in the control group to be rearrested, and found statistically significant reductions for the LEAD group compared to the control group in average yearly criminal justice and legal system utilization and associated costs.

Read Gasc贸n’s proposed policies for Behavioral Health and its Nexus to Homelessness by clicking here.


Law Enforcement’s Role During Covid-19

Jails are breeding grounds for this disease, and staff and individuals alike that exit the system daily are prone to take Covid-19 with them back into our communities. A healthier community is a safer community, and individuals who do not pose a danger to our safety must be released and their prosecutions must be put on hold until after the pandemic passes.

Click here to read my detailed plan for on arrest, detention, charging and reentry during the pandemic. here.


Law Enforcement’s Role During Covid-19

Jails are breeding grounds for this disease, and staff and individuals alike that exit the system daily are prone to take Covid-19 with them back into our communities. A healthier community is a safer community, and individuals who do not pose a danger to our safety must be released and their prosecutions must be put on hold until after the pandemic passes.

Click here to read my detailed plan for on arrest, detention, charging and reentry during the pandemic. here.


The Death Penalty

Gasc贸n is opposed to the death penalty and has never sought to condemn someone to death.聽 State sanctioned killings do not deter crime, but in light of the unequal application of the death penalty to communities of color it does inflict an extraordinary amount of harm to the moral authority of our justice system.聽 It wastes a massive amount of taxpayer resources and creates an unnecessary risk that the state will put an innocent person to death.

California has spent more than $5 billion since 1978 prosecuting death penalty cases and maintaining a death row that houses approximately 737 inmates. 聽During that time, however, only 13 death sentences have been carried out at an outrageous cost of $384 million per execution.聽 The death penalty is morally dubious at best and Gasc贸n believes it鈥檚 time to end it.

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 proposed plan to end the death penalty and resentence those convicted to death to life without parole by clicking聽here.


The Death Penalty

Gasc贸n is opposed to the death penalty and has never sought to condemn someone to death.聽 State sanctioned killings do not deter crime, but in light of the unequal application of the death penalty to communities of color it does inflict an extraordinary amount of harm to the moral authority of our justice system.聽 It wastes a massive amount of taxpayer resources and creates an unnecessary risk that the state will put an innocent person to death.

California has spent more than $5 billion since 1978 prosecuting death penalty cases and maintaining a death row that houses approximately 737 inmates. 聽During that time, however, only 13 death sentences have been carried out at an outrageous cost of $384 million per execution.聽 The death penalty is morally dubious at best and Gasc贸n believes it鈥檚 time to end it.

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 proposed plan to end the death penalty and resentence those convicted to death to life without parole by clicking聽here.


Victims

Gasc贸n believes that victims of crime need the utmost care and consideration in order to ensure that they get the services they need to address the trauma that they鈥檝e suffered.聽 This is as important to their healing as it is to our community鈥檚 safety, as hurt people hurt people, with victims of crime being disproportionately likely to turn to crime themselves.聽

As DA in San Francisco, Gasc贸n increased the number of victims served by 75 percent and worked to overhaul the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board through his sponsorship of AB 1140.

Read Gasc贸n’s plan to support victims of crime on their journey to becoming survivors here.聽


Victims

Gasc贸n believes that victims of crime need the utmost care and consideration in order to ensure that they get the services they need to address the trauma that they鈥檝e suffered.聽 This is as important to their healing as it is to our community鈥檚 safety, as hurt people hurt people, with victims of crime being disproportionately likely to turn to crime themselves.聽

As DA in San Francisco, Gasc贸n increased the number of victims served by 75 percent and worked to overhaul the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board through his sponsorship of AB 1140.

Read Gasc贸n’s plan to support victims of crime on their journey to becoming survivors here.聽


Environmental Justice

Gasc贸n has used his offices鈥 power to hold both individuals and corporations accountable for actions harming the environment. As San Francisco鈥檚 DA he cracked down on corporate polluters, fighting to hold an oil tanker accountable after spilling 422 gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay in 2009. Gasc贸n also held California Walgreens accountable after over 600 stores throughout the state dumped hazardous medical waste, full of toxic and flammable materials. Walgreens Company paid $16.67 million in settlement costs. In addition to prosecuting large corporations and oil companies, Gasc贸n reprimanded individual polluters, charging those who incorrectly disposed of hazardous waste from restaurants and other shops. Beyond using the traditional powers of the District Attorney鈥檚 office to prosecute polluters, Gasc贸n is committed to diverting public funds away from jails and applying them towards public goods like parks in environmental deserts.


Environmental Justice

Gasc贸n has used his offices鈥 power to hold both individuals and corporations accountable for actions harming the environment. As San Francisco鈥檚 DA he cracked down on corporate polluters, fighting to hold an oil tanker accountable after spilling 422 gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay in 2009. Gasc贸n also held California Walgreens accountable after over 600 stores throughout the state dumped hazardous medical waste, full of toxic and flammable materials. Walgreens Company paid $16.67 million in settlement costs. In addition to prosecuting large corporations and oil companies, Gasc贸n reprimanded individual polluters, charging those who incorrectly disposed of hazardous waste from restaurants and other shops. Beyond using the traditional powers of the District Attorney鈥檚 office to prosecute polluters, Gasc贸n is committed to diverting public funds away from jails and applying them towards public goods like parks in environmental deserts.


Public Corruption

As San Francisco District Attorney, Gasc贸n was committed to fighting for a clean government that worked for the people. He formed a joint task force with the FBI to investigate public corruption within San Francisco鈥檚 City Hall, allocating more funds for labor and time intensive corruption investigations. Gasc贸n prosecuted officials from the Mayor鈥檚 campaign committee over illegal contributions and pay-to-play politics, and held accountable school board members who spent money meant for student services on themselves. If elected, Gasc贸n would bring the same level of accountability to Los Angeles County.


Public Corruption

As San Francisco District Attorney, Gasc贸n was committed to fighting for a clean government that worked for the people. He formed a joint task force with the FBI to investigate public corruption within San Francisco鈥檚 City Hall, allocating more funds for labor and time intensive corruption investigations. Gasc贸n prosecuted officials from the Mayor鈥檚 campaign committee over illegal contributions and pay-to-play politics, and held accountable school board members who spent money meant for student services on themselves. If elected, Gasc贸n would bring the same level of accountability to Los Angeles County.


Children in the Justice System

Under Gasc贸n鈥檚 leadership San Francisco experienced a dramatic decline in youth crime, arrest and incarceration rates, and became the first major city in the U.S. to close a juvenile hall.聽聽Two programs implemented by Gasc贸n that are being duplicated across the country are:

Make It Right, a program for justice involved juveniles which sees participants reoffend at less than 录 the rate of those who go through the traditional process.

Young Adult Court, a program designed to address the unique needs of young adults ages 18-25, an age group that is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

 

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 youth justice policy proposal to enhance safety and start treating kids as kids by clicking here.


Children in the Justice System

Under Gasc贸n鈥檚 leadership San Francisco experienced a dramatic decline in youth crime, arrest and incarceration rates, and became the first major city in the U.S. to close a juvenile hall.聽聽Two programs implemented by Gasc贸n that are being duplicated across the country are:

Make It Right, a program for justice involved juveniles which sees participants reoffend at less than 录 the rate of those who go through the traditional process.

Young Adult Court, a program designed to address the unique needs of young adults ages 18-25, an age group that is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

 

Read Gasc贸n鈥檚 youth justice policy proposal to enhance safety and start treating kids as kids by clicking here.


Drug Policy

Gasc贸n co-authored Proposition 47 to unwind California鈥檚 involvement in the war on drugs and save California $800,000 per day that is being reinvested in K-12 education and victim, substance abuse and mental health services.聽 He also started a national movement when he proactively applied Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana, to dismiss and seal thousands of marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. Gasc贸n was recently honored by the Drug Policy Alliance for his achievements in the Field of Law at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference.


Drug Policy

Gasc贸n co-authored Proposition 47 to unwind California鈥檚 involvement in the war on drugs and save California $800,000 per day that is being reinvested in K-12 education and victim, substance abuse and mental health services.聽 He also started a national movement when he proactively applied Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana, to dismiss and seal thousands of marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. Gasc贸n was recently honored by the Drug Policy Alliance for his achievements in the Field of Law at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference.


Immigration

Gasc贸n immigrated to Los Angeles from Cuba when he was 13.聽 He has been a major advocate for immigrant rights, having taken on Joe Arpaio when he was Chief of Police in Mesa, AZ, and leading state legislative efforts to ensure immigrants aren鈥檛 targeted with inappropriate questioning about their status when they take the stand.聽 He implemented a court escort policy in the era of ICE agents in courtrooms in order to ensure that every resident of our community has equal access to our courthouses and our system of justice.

Read Gasc贸n’s plan to ensure resolution parity for the undocumented here.


Immigration

Gasc贸n immigrated to Los Angeles from Cuba when he was 13.聽 He has been a major advocate for immigrant rights, having taken on Joe Arpaio when he was Chief of Police in Mesa, AZ, and leading state legislative efforts to ensure immigrants aren鈥檛 targeted with inappropriate questioning about their status when they take the stand.聽 He implemented a court escort policy in the era of ICE agents in courtrooms in order to ensure that every resident of our community has equal access to our courthouses and our system of justice.

Read Gasc贸n’s plan to ensure resolution parity for the undocumented here.


Prosecutorial Transparency

Gasc贸n launched the state鈥檚 first online portal for prosecutorial data enabling community members to review office performance metrics.聽 If elected, he would introduce a similar tool in LA.


Prosecutorial Transparency

Gasc贸n launched the state鈥檚 first online portal for prosecutorial data enabling community members to review office performance metrics.聽 If elected, he would introduce a similar tool in LA.


Innovation & Reform

  • LEAD
  • Bail Reform and Public Safety Assessment Tool
  • Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB)
  • Young Adult Court
  • Neighborhood Courts
  • Crime Strategies Unit
  • Sentencing Planner Program
  • Blue Ribbon Panel
  • Sentencing Commission
  • Prop 36 and Prop 47
  • Make it Right
  • DA Stat
  • Secure Our Smartphones Initiative (SB 962)
  • Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act (SB 393)
  • Automated Record Clearance for Individuals Already Eligible Under Existing Laws (AB 1076)
  • Immigration Consequences for Victims/Witnesses (SB 785)
  • Victims Bill – SB 562
  • 8 “Advisory Boards”
  • Opposed construction of new jail
  • Advocacy for more mental health resources
  • Revamped the Victim Services Division to extend more services to victims of crime
  • Created the Consumer Fraud Hotline
  • Created the Hate Crime Hotline
  • Two new therapy dogs to the office
  • “Safer Together” and a trauma informed approach.
  • Operation Cold Day
  • Gun Enforcement Unit
  • Mass Casualty Grant
  • Weekend Rebooking
  • Taking Prosecutors to San Quentin
  • Vision Zero Public Ed Campaigns