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November 6, 2020

Coalition of social justice and community-based organizations centers demands on racial equity, decarceration, and accountability.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles DA Accountability Coalition (DAAC) congratulates George Gascón on his victory in the race for Los Angeles County District Attorney and is preparing to press for an ambitious agenda of reform for the country’s largest district attorney’s office.

The DAAC, a coalition of local justice reform organizations, advocates, artists, organizers, and people who have been directly impacted by our criminal legal system, has spent the past year-and-a-half building public awareness about the power of the district attorney’s office and encouraging voter participation in this vital election. Now that the election is complete, the coalition is focused on promoting greater transparency and accountability for the DA and the DA’s office by advocating for serious reforms that reverse L.A.’s long history of racism and mass incarceration.

“We have been thrilled at the level of local and national attention on this race, which both encouraged and reflected a heightened public awareness of both the power and discretion that a DA has,” said Molly Greene, a member of the DAAC Steering Committee. “Now that the race has been resolved, we intend to make sure that this awareness translates into continued accountability.”

The DAAC is advocating for the district attorney’s office to commit to new policy objectives, including the following:

1. Pursue racial justice. Acknowledge racial disparities, evaluate and address — with community input — how to eliminate them, and commit to blind charging, which prevents prosecutors from seeing demographic information before making an initial decision on whether to charge someone.

2. Decarcerate. Commit to reducing incarceration by 25% by the end of 2024, actively and strongly pursue alternatives to incarceration, prioritize community-based services, and break from the California District Attorney Association and other prosecutor lobbies to support reform and transformation measures.

3. Increase pretrial justice. Stop seeking money bail, recommend release with the least restrictions possible, and advocate for needs-based assessments.

4. Treat kids like kids. Advocate for non-criminal diversion programming, never seek life without parole or strikes against kids, and publicly advocate for ending police and police searches in schools.

5. Engage in radical transparency in policies and data, and commit to meaningful community meetings and oversight. Gather and publish statistics, policies, and protocols, and institute a Memoranda of Understanding with community members. Advocate for the creation of an independent oversight body and advisory board, and strengthen conviction review and integrity measures.

6. Prosecute law enforcement misconduct, brutality, and killings. Support an independent investigatory team outside of the DA’s office to address law enforcement prosecutions; release all video footage within 30 days of an incident; create a “Do Not Call” list prohibiting officers with histories of misconduct, dishonestly, racism or bias from testifying at trial; and create a committee that is responsive to families who have encountered police misconduct, brutality, and the loss of loved ones.

7. Protect immigrants and others from collateral consequences. Implement an office-wide policy requiring attorneys to write a memo to their supervisors that explains adverse immigration and collateral consequences when making policy and negotiation decisions in charging, pre-plea, plea, and post-conviction contexts and to proceed on paths that minimize or remove those immigration and collateral consequences; support prohibition of local cooperation with ICE, Border Patrol, or HSI; support post-conviction litigation from people who pled guilty without being advised of immigration or collateral consequences, or who seek to mitigate the consequences stemming from an old conviction; and proactively engage with the immigrant community by holding regular community meetings to hear their evolving concerns and needs.

“Our philosophy has always been that accountability is an ongoing, never-ending process, not just something that happens every four years at election time” said Megan Baca, staff attorney and investigations coordinator at Loyola Project for the Innocent. “No matter who leads the office of the DA, our job is to make sure that the public is educated and informed on the most important issues in the criminal legal system, and that the DA is responsive to both the public he serves as well as those individuals and communities most directly affected by the criminal legal system.”

The DAAC intends to continue to engage both with the public and with the DA’s office in pursuit of a more just and equitable criminal legal system that serves all Angelenos.

The DA Accountability Coalition is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting greater accountability within the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office by educating our community on the power and discretion of DAs as well as the culture and policies within the DA’s office. Learn more.