NLG-LA & MOVEMENT PARTNERS SUPPORT DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCON’S JUSTICE REFORMS

Civil Rights Attorneys, Public Defenders, Social Justice Organizers, Religious Leaders, Movement Partners, Crime Survivors, and Directly Impacted Communities Strongly Support Mr. Gascón’s New Policy Directives

On November 3, 2020, Los Angeles voters elected George Gascón as the new District Attorney (DA) by a clear majority and, in doing so, delivered a powerful mandate to shift from the decades long tough on crime approach that has made Los Angeles the capital of human caging in this state and home to the largest jail system in this country, while failing to address any of the underlying issues that most significantly impact public safety.

Voters have recognized that prosecutorial discretion is a tremendous source of power in our criminal legal system that can be dangerously wielded to criminalize poverty, flood prisons and jails, deepen systemic racial disparities, exempt police killings from accountability, justify bloated policing budgets, and prosecute youth like “super predators.” It is the potential for this power to be used to help decriminalize public health issues, make diversion the default, restrain the excesses and violence of law enforcement, end mass incarceration, and ultimately produce safer and healthier communities, that has ushered in a wave of progressive prosecutors around the country.

On his first day in office, Mr. Gascón enacted the policies that were at the center of his widely publicized campaign: The elimination of sentencing enhancements, youth no longer sent to adult criminal court, cash bail drastically scaled back, non-prosecution of low-level misdemeanors, expanded opportunities for parole and resentencing, and the reopening of some cases of police killings. These sweeping reforms will enhance public safety and are well-aligned with a burgeoning national consciousness that we can no longer police and cage away the many social ills produced by inequality, racism, and poverty: the root causes of crime.

We commend DA Gascón for his deep and ongoing collaboration with progressive thinkers, activists, leaders, and organizations, as well as crime survivors and community members who are seeking meaningful societal transformation as opposed to solely punitive measures. The open resistance and brazen hostility displayed by some judges, commissioners, and even certain factions of the DA’s staff who oppose Mr. Gascón’s new directives, only serves to underscore the transformational impact of these directives. The pushback to a progressive approach to crime and safety comes as no surprise, especially as we see the same decades old dog whistle of “Law and Order” being used to undermine a less punitive and more productive approach to public safety.

But, now more than ever, we must protect the reimagined vision for public safety in Los Angeles. Mr. Gascón’s election represents the will of the people, and WE THE UNDERSIGNED strongly support his directives which are a critical first step to unseat Los Angeles as the capital of mass incarceration in California.

Sincerely,

American Indian Movement SoCal

ACLU of Northern California

ACLU of Southern California

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Southern California

Black Jewish Justice Alliance

Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles

Black Lives Matter – Long Beach

California Coalition for Women Prisoners

California Conference for Equality and Justice

Californians for Safety and Justice

California Public Defender’s Association

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice

Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, Loyola Law School

Centro CSO

Children’s Defense Fund–California

Coalition for Engaged Education

Color of Change

Court Watch Los Angeles

Creating JusticeLA

Dignity and Power Now

District Attorney Accountability Coalition

Essie Justice Group

Frontline Wellness Network

Gender Justice LA

Ground Game LA

Immigrant Defenders Law Center

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

JusticeLA

Jewish Voice for Peace – L.A.

LA County Public Defenders Union

La Defensa

LA Voice

M.A.R.I.A (Mothers Against Racism in America)

Me Too Survivors’ March International

National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles

New Earth

Occupy ICE LA

Reform LA Jails

Re: Store Justice

SEIU Local 2015

Smart Justice California

Stonewall Democratic Club

The Arts for Healing and Justice Network

The Church Without Walls – Skid Row

The Future Left

The Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership

UCLA Cops off Campus Coalition

UCLA Labor Center

Urban Peace Institute

White People 4 Black Lives

Unified Statement in Support of Justice Reforms

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