Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is embarking on an overhaul of LA County's judicial system, but his first year on the job has not been without critics.
On the heels of a failed recall effort, Gascón spoke to "Inside the Issues" host Alex Cohen about his most recent moves as DA and plans for his second year in office.
On Nov. 4, 2021, Gascón announced his new Centralized Charge Evaluation System. It's an attempt to ensure greater consistency and fairness in filing decisions by county prosecutors.
Gascón told Cohen it's long overdue.
"We are so large and have so many different branches, you know 22, often the equally situated people in one part of the county get very different treatment in other parts of the county," Gascón said.
He said the current system for filing a crime isn't fair.
"The difference in the outcomes is not justice," Gascón said.
Critics have been working on removing Gascón and pushing back against his progressive approach since his first days in office.
"The week that I was sworn in, on December the 7th, that very week, people were talking about recalling me," Gascón said.
Two recent moves that have drawn controversy include his prosecution of law enforcement for illegal use of force and dismissal of 60,000 marijuana-related convictions in LA County.
"It's really straight forward," Gascón told Cohen about his stance on charging law enforcement. "The majority of men and women in uniform are doing incredible work under very difficult conditions and sometimes they have to use force, and when the force is appropriate and lawful, they are going to get my support."
Gascón said things change when it is clear that the law has been broken.
"We will do our job by ensuring that those folks, that are trusted by us to enforce the law, are enforcing the law appropriately, and when they don't they're held accountable," Gascón said. "In those cases where they are in violation of the law, it's critically important for law enforcement accountability and credibility."
When asked about the dismissal of thousands of marijuana convictions, he told Cohen, "The impact is huge."
He said the removal of convictions will help people get back on their feet after facing barriers from a criminal conviction.
"What often is unsaid is when people are unable to integrate themselves into our society in whole, getting housing, getting employment, getting education, that actually creates bigger problems for us," Gascón said.
He said the dismissal will help 60,000 people better participate in today's society.
"What we're trying to do is clear the path in order to create a safer community for all of us," Gascón said.
Despite ongoing efforts to oust him, Gascón said he has a clear view of the finish line.
"I am not going to allow the distraction of the threat of a recall to derail what I promised to do," he told Cohen.
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