LOS ANGELES (CNS) - George Gascon will be sworn in as Los Angeles County's 43 district attorney today, marking the beginning of a new era after Jackie Lacey held the job for eight years.
“I was elected by the people and this community will have a seat at the table as we work to modernize our criminal justice system,'' Gascon said Nov. 18 in a written statement, as he announced his transition team. “Those that have been directly impacted by the work of this office have unique insights that are integral to an effective administration.''
He noted that “our profession has largely missed the opportunity to learn from those that are justice-involved. We need to listen, grow and take this opportunity to be better.''
Gascon -- a former LAPD assistant chief, chief of police in Mesa, Arizona, and San Francisco district attorney -- positioned himself as a reformer in the race.
Lacey finished first in the three-candidate field in the March 3 primary with 48.7% of the vote to 28.2% for Gascon. A runoff was needed because no candidate received a majority.
In the time between the runoff and the general election, Lacey continued to come under heavy criticism by activists who wanted her to be more aggressive in prosecuting law enforcement officers involved in deadly shootings.
Gascon won the Nov. 3 election with 53.53% of the vote to Lacey's 46.47%.
His transition team includes:
-- Transition steering committee: Cristine Deberry, Jamarah Hayner, Max Szabo and Joseph Iniguez -- the latter of whom is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who initially ran against Lacey for the post as the county's top prosecutor and then subsequently withdrew from the race and endorsed Gascon. Iniguez is the only current employee from the District Attorney's Office officially named as part of the transition team;
-- Bail: Robin Steinberg, the founder and chief executive officer of The Bail Project, and Dolores Canales, The Bail Project's community outreach director;
-- Conviction review: Paula Mitchell, the executive director of the Project for the Innocent at Loyola Law School; and Franky Carrillo, who spent over two decades behind bars before his conviction for a 1991 murder was vacated;
-- Death penalty: Stefanie Faucher, a deputy director of the 8th Amendment Project, which seeks to end the death penalty; Sean Kennedy, the Kaplan & Feldman executive director for the Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School; and consultant Natasha Minsker;
-- Diversion, reentry and behavioral health: Songhai Armstead, the head of Los Angeles County's Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative; and Eunisses Hernandez, a policy advocate and campaign strategist and co-executive director of La Defensa;
-- Enhancements, three strikes and charging: Michael Romano, director and founder of the Three Strikes and Justice Advocacy Projects at Stanford Law School;
-- Environmental justice: Michael Kadish, the executive director of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles from 2013-20; Angeleno Logan, campaign director for Moving Forward Network and the co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice; Mary Nemick, communications director for the city's Public Works Department; and Aura Vasquez, a former Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commission member;
-- Immigration: Maritza Agundez, managing attorney of student legal services for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); and Rose Cahn, who oversees the Immigrant Legal Resource Center's pro bono Immigrant Post-Conviction Relief Project;
-- Juvenile: Frankie Guzman, director of the California Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law; Michael Mendoza, national director of the Dream Corps; Maureen Pacheco, trainer for the juvenile division of the Alternate Public Defender's Office in Los Angeles; and Patricia Soung, director of Youth Justice Policy and senior staff attorney at the Children's Defense Fund-California;
-- Law enforcement accountability: Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law; and Je Yon Jung, an attorney who previously worked at the Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
-- Law enforcement relations: Kevin Jablonski, retired Los Angeles Police Department chief police psychologist; Rebecca Neusteter, a former director of research, policy and planning for the New York Police Department; and Jacqueline A. Seabrooks, former Santa Monica Police Department chief who was recently asked by the city to serve as its interim police chief;
-- Re-sentencing: Hillary Blout, the founder and executive director of For The People and the Sentence Review Project and a former San Francisco prosecutor who worked for Gascon when he was district attorney there; Kate Chatfield, director of policy for The Justice Collaborative; Christopher Hawthorne, co-director of Loyola Law School's Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic; attorney Jennifer Hansen of California Appellate Project; along with Romano, who is also on the transition team dealing with enhancements, three strikes and charging, and Mitchell, who is also dealing with conviction review;
-- “Trauma informed approach to victims'': Ivette Ale, a grassroots organizer and LGBTQ community leader with 15 years of community organizing and advocacy experience; LaNaisha Edwards, who works with the Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice as the Los Angeles chapter coordinator and Volunteers of America GYRD program as a lead case manager; Gena Castro-Rodriguez, a psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked with children, youth and families in the dependency, delinquency and criminal justice system for more than 25 years; and Bamby Salcedo, a community organizer and social justice advocate.
The transition team also includes additional members “beyond those named ... with lived-experience and technical expertise providing contributions and recommendations,'' according to the statement, which notes that several other efforts are being led by teams of experts covering a variety of areas including data, misdemeanor charging and prosecutorial ethics.
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