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Commentary: Support Los Angles DA George Gascon’s measures for criminal justice reform

Commentary by Carlos Montes |
February 19, 2021
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LA major struggles against racist discrimination in the criminal justice system
LA is the scene of major struggles against racist discrimination in the criminal justice system. (Photo by Luis Sifuentes)

Los Angeles, CA - On December 7, 2020, newly-elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon on his first day in office announced sweeping reforms to the LA criminal justice system. This system has a long history of mass incarceration of Brown and Black men and women, so much so that the Police Protective League (PPL) of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Association of Deputy District Attorneys have started to attack him and the progressive reforms. The pro-police Association went so far as to file a lawsuit to stop these much-needed changes.

Centro CSO Community Service Organization in Los Angeles supports and welcomes the reforms to the criminal justice systems that disproportionally incarcerate thousands of Chicanos in the California state prison system.

Some of these reforms include eliminating cash bail, the racist death penalty, excessive sentencing penalty enhancements, and prosecuting juveniles as adults. The new DA also announced the reopening of investigations on several police killings. He has also announced the establishment of a new unit within the district attorney’s office to investigate police killings of Black and Brown men and women.

These reforms came after years of struggle in Los Angeles. The California prison system is full of young men from southern California, as the LA district attorney has jurisdiction for the entire Los Angeles County. Black Lives Matter-LA and allies conducted a three-year fight to demand the prosecution of killer cops. When former DA Jackie Lacey refused, weekly rallies were held outside the ‘Hall of Injustice’ with the demand “Jackie Lacey must go!” and the call to prosecute killer cops. Centro CSO supported and joined the get-out-the-vote campaign to oust Lacey and Trump. After three years of struggle including marches, rallies and a full campaign with large GOTV outreach, Lacey was defeated on November 3 by George Gascon.

Gascon has publicly stated and implemented several reforms of the criminal justice system in LA; we should support these new reforms.

On February 2, BLM-LA held a rally outside of Stanley Mosk LA Courthouse in support of progressive criminal justice reforms. Police associations, along with deputy district attorneys, have been pushing back against Gascon. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys filed a lawsuit to stop these progressive measures. Centro CSO and many organizations joined BLM-LA on February 2 to support the new DA’s measures and to condemn the Police Protective League of LAPD and the lawsuit.