Los Angeles, CA – The newly-sworn Los Angeles County district attorney called the city “a poster child for the failed tough-on-crime approach” and announced an immediate end to cash bail on Monday.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón put an immediate end to cash bail for misdemeanors that will allow thousands of inmates awaiting trial to be released as soon as Tuesday, KTLA reported.
Gascón said he also planned to do away with cash bail for felonies at the start of the New Year, except in the cases of the most violent offenders.
He also promised to re-evaluate the cases and sentences of defendants who had been convicted under the “Three Strikes” law or who had gang enhancements added to their sentences, The Washington Post reported.
Gascón has estimated that move could affect up to as many as 20,000 currently incarcerated felons.
The new district attorney has also expressed a desire to direct defendants arrested on low-level offenses related to poverty, addiction, mental illness, and homelessness into behavior health services rather than the criminal justice system, The Washington Post reported.
He vowed to go back and re-investigate all officer-involved shootings going back to 2012.
Gascón said he planned to send out a letter before he was sworn in on Monday to notify law enforcement agencies across the county that he’s forming a panel of experts to review shootings, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Gascón started reviewing past officer-involved shooting cases before he took office and said he had already identified four cases that needed to be re-opened.
The three-page letter that informed police officials of his latest intentions referred to the violent riots in the city as the “unrest over the summer” and blamed it on police killing people, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The new district attorney also said shootings by police had “severely degraded our standing in the communities where we both work and live.”
“Compounding that dynamic is the reality that too often our profession has failed to hold its own to the same standards that we impose on the communities we are sworn to protect and serve,” Gascón wrote in the letter. “To repair this harm we must meet the demands of the public, and we must hold ourselves to the same standards as we do the communities we police.”
He said he planned to go back even further than he had previously promised, and will have the panel looking at officer-involved shootings going back as far as 2012, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The letter said the panel would be made up of policing experts, civil rights attorneys, community members, and representatives from the University of California Irvine’s Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Clinic.
Gascón campaigned on a promise to overhaul the district attorney’s office which he said was part of an unfair criminal justice system, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The first meeting the newly-elected prosecutor participated in after he was elected was with Black Lives Matter organizers and family members of people who had been fatally shot by police.
He has since doubled-down on promises to make sweeping policy changes including barring prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gascón has also said he will not try juveniles as adults or pursue sentence enhancements for gang crimes.
The former San Francisco district attorney has garnered praise from criminal justice reform advocates and inspired fear in prosecutors in the office he’s taking over, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gascón has said he’s not concerned about opposition in the district attorney’s office and said many prosecutors under former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey had reached out to him during his campaign to offer support.
He ran on a promise to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment for criminals, the Los Angeles Times reported.