Gascón Refuses to Attend L.A. Crime Victims Candidate Forum

By LaWanda Hawkins and Kathy Cady

Los Angeles County Crime Victims hosted a District Attorney candidates’ forum on Thursday night, February 29. District Attorney George Gascón skipped it. He had a scheduling conflict.

Gascón’s absence was an insult to crime victims and their family members, but it was not a surprise.

As District Attorney, George Gascón has embraced policies that are, at best, indifferent to the interests of crime victims. At worst, his approach is insulting.

Gascón has ignored victims’ concerns about bail, the filing of certain charges and sentencing enhancements, and how to appropriately handle juveniles who commit violent crimes. He will not let prosecutors attend parole hearings, a tragic decision that leaves victims and their family members to fend for themselves. He called a murder victim’s mother “uneducated” because she had the guts to tell him she didn’t agree with his policies. He has suggested that those who seek lengthy prison sentences for the most violent offenders are “insane.” This latter approach is not only dismissive, but it also fails to acknowledge the importance of holding those who commit crimes accountable for their actions.

But Gascón’s failure to show up for victims and their families at this week’s candidate forum—and his failure show up for them at all—has had tangible repercussions for our friends, neighbors, and family members who have suffered the life-changing and traumatic effects of violent crime.

Our legal system guarantees that anyone charged with a crime will get an attorney to represent them. Victims don’t have that same guarantee. Instead, they depend upon the criminal justice system to secure just and balanced outcomes. A key part of that system is a functional prosecutor’s office, one led by a competent leader. Victims and their families want – and need – a District Attorney who will do this important and essential work. The want someone who will stand up for victims, not talk down to them.

At minimum, they want a chief prosecutor who will show up for them.

George Gascón is not that District Attorney.

We all have a choice to make in this week’s primary election for District Attorney. We can vote to keep Gascón in office or we can abandon him, just as he has abandoned victims of crime and their families. His decision to skip last week’s debate makes their choice, and ours, an easy one.

LaWanda Hawkins’ 19-year-old son, Reginald Reese, was murdered December 6, 1995. His murder remains unsolved. In 1996, less than a year after Reggie’s death, Hawkins founded Justice for Murdered Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for victims’ families, to ensure that those killed in unsolved murders will be remembered, and that justice will be served to their killers. She serves on the Los Angeles City Mayor’s Crisis Response Team where she is called to respond to homicides to assist victims’ families.

Kathy Cady, a Victims’ Rights Attorney at Dordulian Law Group, brings over three decades of legal expertise, including 31 years as a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutor. Ms. Cady

About the ADDA

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent representing over 800 Deputy District Attorneys working for the County of Los Angeles

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