L.A. County Registrar OKs recall petition for George Gascón

Campaign organizers seeking to recall Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón can now start collecting signatures in their second bid to remove the progressive prosecutor from office, officials said.

The county’s Registrar’s Office approved the new recall petition Thursday that requires organizers to gather signatures of support from 10% of the county’s registered voters — a little more than 560,000 people — by July 6. Organizers halted their first recall attempt last fall after they were unable to gather the necessary signatures by the end of October.

Gascón, 67, was elected in 2020 on a pledge to reform the county’s criminal justice system. Since he took office, juveniles are no longer being charged as adults, sentencing enhancements that he says lead to mass incarceration have been eliminated and cash bail for nonviolent felony offenses has ended. Misdemeanors associated with substance abuse and mental illness are also being diverted out of the criminal justice system.

But recall organizers contend that Gascon’s policies favor defendants and have contributed to a rise in crime. His critics include L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, law enforcement officers, some prosecutors and victims’ rights groups.

“We are sick and tired of living in the pro-criminal paradise Gascón has created,” recall organizers Desiree Andrade and Tania Owen said in a statement. “Gascón turned his back on us, and now his policies are destroying Los Angeles County right before our eyes and needlessly creating more innocent victims.”

Gascón continues to defend his policies, questioning the effectiveness of stiffer penalties, longer sentences and punishment without rehabilitation in overcrowded prisons.

“The investment on prisons is not a good one,” Gascón recently told Times columnist Steve Lopez. But he argued that this doesn’t mean some people don’t deserve to be locked up.

Gascón, who previously served as the top prosecutor in San Francisco, arrived in his new job amid nationwide political and civil unrest following George Floyd’s killing in 2020 by a white Minneapolis police officer that also brought calls for criminal justice reforms. But the new recall campaign comes amid a nationwide spike in crime, including in Los Angeles County, where property crime and homicides are on the rise after dropping to historical all-time lows.

“This is our chance to put an end to all of it, but it is massive undertaking that will require an all-in approach from the entire community,” Andrade and Owen said in their statement. “We need all Angelenos to join us in this effort to restore public safety and end the chaos in our streets. We all deserve to live without fear of criminals running amok, and to have a District Attorney who actually does his job.”

The group claims they have raised $2.7 million in contributions.

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