Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has cut ties with the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), after determining the board is comprised of too many white people and is too focused on being “tough on crime.”
Gascon, a 66-year-old native of Cuba, announced his resignation in a letter to the CDAA on Tuesday.
At the top of his complaints about the organization was the fact that the DCAA had supported a lawsuit that a group of Gascon’s own deputy district attorneys had filed against him, FOX News reported.
The group of deputy district attorneys alleged in the suit that Gascon had ordered them to drop all sentencing enhancement in the cases they were prosecuting – a policy they said violated state law.
According to Gascon, pursuing sentencing enhancements drives up the likelihood criminals will reoffend in the future, FOX News reported.
Gascon’s prohibition on sentencing enhancements was recently temporarily blocked by a Superior Court judge.
The CDAA filed an amicus brief in support of the deputy district attorneys’ lawsuit on Jan. 26, arguing that “no constitutional provision and no statute vests any district attorney with veto power over the law,” FOX News reported.
Gascon didn’t take kindly to the CDAA’s position on the matter.
“While your decision to join litigation against one of your own members was disappointing, it was not a surprise given the politics of the organization,” Gascon wrote in his letter to the CDAA.
“CDAA continues to be a member organization solely for those willing to toe the ‘tough on crime’ line,” he lamented. “For the rest of us, it is a place that fails to support us, our communities, or the pursuit of justice.”
Gascon went on to blast the CDAA for having too many white people on its governing board.
“The absence of a single person of color on CDAA’s 17-member board is blinding,” he declared. “This is the leadership that sets the direction for an organization of elected prosecutors, all of whom disproportionately prosecute communities of color.”
Gascon alleged the group of district attorneys is ignoring the demands of community members.
“Whether by ignorance or defiance, the extent to which CDAA has lost touch with the public its members are elected to represent and serve is just baffling,” he wrote, arguing that “voters have embraced reform after reform.”
Gascon said he hoped in vain that the CDAA “would evolve and come to embrace commonsense criminal justice reforms backed by data, science and research,” but claimed the group instead “dug its heels in, rejected science, and willingly turned a blind eye to a two-tiered criminal justice system that places communities of color and poor defendants at a clear disadvantage.”
He further accused the group of losing its direction, misappropriating funds, failing to “evolve and modernize,” and adopting “increasingly fringe values.”
Gascon pointed out to the CDAA that he would be taking “the significant resources of the largest prosecutor’s office in the nation” with him in his departure.
“I recognize that these are resources upon which the CDAA has come to rely, but we will no longer pay dues, nor will we provide personnel to perform research or analysis on state legislative proposals,” he wrote. “Finally, and as you know, I’ve directed my legislative advocacy team to no longer support CDAA’s lobbying efforts.”
Gascon said he had no alternative to the CDAA when he first joined the group, but that he has since helped to found the Prosecutors Alliance of California (PAC).
He touted the PAC as a “first-of-its-kind organization for reform-minded prosecutors.”
Out of the DCAA’s 58 members, only Gascon and San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar have resigned from the organization so far, LAist reported.
Salazar cut ties with the DCAA during the summer of 2020.
CDAA President Vern Pierson dismissed Gascon’s dramatic public resignation as a “publicity stunt to divert attention away from his favoring criminals at the expense of victims and growing calls for his recall,” LAist reported.
He further argued that Gascon made “disingenuous” claims about the board’s white membership, pointing out that Gascon ran against former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who is black and a member of the board, according to LAist.
Gascon was a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) assistant chief and police chief in Mesa, Arizona before he was elected district attorney of San Francisco and then ran for office in Los Angeles.