Los Angeles County residents launch recall effort against district attorney
UPDATED 2:30 PM PT – Sunday, February 28, 2021
A victims’ rights group led a recall effort aimed at Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. On Saturday, the group held a victim’s vigil in Los Angeles. They voiced their opposition to the criminal justice reforms Gascon brought to the prosecutor’s office when he stepped into the position in early December.
Gascon ran on several criminal justice reforms, but pushed them further to the left since he took office. Reforms included ending the use of sentencing enhancements, restricting when prosecutors can hold defendants without bail and ending the use of the death penalty. Critics called the changes “drastic” and said it’s unacceptable that violent criminals are being allowed back on the street. They noted that he fooled the voters of LA County.
“He ran on a platform of justice reform, which I believe is needed, but the pendulum has swung too far left,” attorney Siannah Collado said. “Basically, people wanted to make sure a person that committed a crime with drugs didn’t get 40 years in prison, but not a murderer that gets only six. So it’s a total bait and switch.”
The changes were praised by progressives, but he faced criticism by members of his staff and law enforcement officials who actually have to deal with the criminal element. The loudest opposing voices, however, came from the crime victims and survivors. Some said they are upset that prosecutors can’t pursue harsher penalties for crimes like murder.
The first legal step in a recall is the filing of a notice of intent to recall. Must be supported by the signatures of at least 20 LA County registered voters. We will also have a table set up for signatures.
— recallgeorgegascon (@recallgascon) February 27, 2021
One mother of a slain 22-year-old said she wants to see the maximum penalty for her daughter’s alleged killer.
“He’s trying to dismiss special circumstances, will reduce those charges down to 25 to life, and I’m not trying to get 25 to life,” Darlene Duran, whose daughter was murdered in 2011, said. “I would prefer…that he will receive full justice.”
The city of Los Angeles experienced a spike in homicides, noting more people were shot to death in the city in 2020 than in any other year in the last decade. Earlier in February, a Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled against Gascon in a lawsuit that claimed his policy of eliminating enhancements “overstepped his authority.”
An elected official must be in office for 90 days before a recall petition can be filed, which means the recall process against Gascon can’t start until early March. The recall petition would require around 580,000 signatures, and a recall vote would likely not appear on the ballot until 2022.