Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon speaks at a press conference, December 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - Gascon was joined by a group of district attorneys from around the country at the press conference that was called for the accomplishments of his first year in office. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon rebutted critics Wednesday with a press conference outlining his criminal justice reforms that seek to downgrade many felonies and lessen prison sentences.

“As we work to define what it means to be a 21st century prosecutor, I have and always will put public safety first,” Gascon said. “This past year, we have demonstrated how advancements in science and data analysis can help keep our communities safer and healthier … and to address mass incarceration and inequities within the criminal legal system.”


Last year, Gascon beat centrist District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who had been targeted as pro-police by Black Lives Matter. He is the former San Francisco district attorney and authored the controversial Proposition 47, which is being blamed for the violent crime wave in Los Angeles because it downgraded many felonies to misdemeanors.

Gascon’s policies include prohibiting the filing of “enhancements,” which tack on up to 25 years of additional prison time for violent offenses such as using a gun, belonging to a gang, or committing great bodily injury.

This was something that happened to Beverly Hills philanthropist Jacqueline Avant's accused killer, who saw his gun enhancement disappear, something that would’ve been charged elsewhere in the state. Gascon sent out a fundraising email blast the day of Avant’s murder to do more of this legislatively, presumably to overturn these laws enacted by voters.

In an unprecedented move, district attorneys from other states such as Virginia and Massachusetts attended the press conference instead of local law enforcement and victims' rights advocates.

“This tells us that no other local leaders support the DA and his policies,” said prosecutor Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. “Instead, he flew in other like-minded politicians from around the country who are also ushering in a new crime wave to their own cities.”


Critics are mounting a recall effort. Among the most vocal is Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who told KTLA that “his approach has been god-awful. He authored Proposition 47 to reduce felonies to misdemeanors, and now he doesn’t want to prosecute misdemeanors.”