Los Angeles County’s District Attorney race has been closely watched as a referendum on the national criminal justice movement.
Now, challenger George Gascón has pulled ahead of incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey, who has held the position since 2012. Los Angeles’ D.A. occupies a significant role in the local criminal justice system; the D.A. prosecutes over 180,000 criminal defendants a year, and has an influence over statewide policy related to criminal justice and incarceration.
However, the growing movement to scrutinize prosecutors’ roles as gatekeepers to the system has thrown L.A. 's race into the national spotlight. Activists have cited Jackie Lacey’s record— in 2017, she sent 608 per 100,000 people to prison— as part of the reason to oppose her reelection. Gascón, who was San Francisco’s D.A. from 2011-2019 and is viewed as the more progressive candidate, sent 126 per 100,000.
Voters in Los Angeles County also voted on Measure J, which would require the Los Angeles County Charter to allocate at least 10% of the general fund to programs designed to prevent recidivism. Voters in California voted against Prop 25, which would have replaced cash bail with risk assessments for detainees awaiting trial. Voters also rejected Prop 20, which would have altered two previous ballot measures that reduce penalties and allow for earlier releases.
Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about how criminal justice might change in Los Angeles County and California. Questions? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.
We reached out to George Gascón and Jackie Lacey, but they were unable to join us for this interview.