OAKLAND, Calif. — Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón ran on a vow to shake up America’s largest law enforcement jurisdiction. Sweeping progressive changes followed — and so has the California backlash.
Within weeks of taking office, Gascón instructed prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty and trying juveniles as adults. He ordered a halt to most cash bail requests and banned prosecutors from appearing at parole hearings. Most controversially, he barred prosecutors from seeking various sentencing enhancements.
Even if expected, Gascón’s moves have set off a political confrontation of unprecedented magnitude. Rank-and-file Los Angeles prosecutors have revolted and sought to block their new boss in court. District attorneys elsewhere in California have said they will not share cases with Gascón.
“You can’t just use the law to implement your personal worldview of what society should look like,” Association of Deputy District Attorneys Vice President Eric Siddall said. “The idea of one man coming in and saying, ‘You all are wrong, and this is what the law should be,’ is kind of counter to what our entire American system of justice is all about. It’s the antithesis of the rule of law.”