UPDATED 7:00PM PT, NOV. 4. Early this morning, NBC-LA projected that former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón would win the Los Angeles D.A. Election over incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey. As of the moment of this publication, Gascón leads Lacey by a bit more than 211,000 votes earning 54% of the ballots counted to Lacey’s 46%. Gascón carried the progressive reform mantle in the race, and while Lacey nearly won the election outright in March’s primary election — she fell just short of 50% of the vote there — the dynamics of the election changed with 1) the national outcry over systemic racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis; 2) the influx of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from progressive political action committees (for Gascón) and from law enforcement unions (for Lacey); and 3) the consolidation of progressive support behind Gascón after he overtook former public defender Rachel Rossi in the primary to secure a place in the runoff.
Crime Story has covered this race in numerous pieces (which you can find here), including our in depth interview with Gascón (which you can find here).
UPDATE: 4:00PM PT, NOV. 4
Here is an update on all of the local ballot measures and state-wide propositions related to crime, policing and criminal justice reform. All of the descriptions are presented courtesy of CaliforniaChoices.org.
Ballot Measure J — Los Angeles County Community Investment and Alternatives to Incarceration
Measure J would “require Los Angeles County to budget no less than ten percent (10%) of the County’s locally-generated, unrestricted revenues in the general fund to address the disproportionate impact of racial injustice through community investment and alternatives to incarceration, prohibiting using those funds for carceral systems or law enforcement agencies.” According to the L. A. Times, this measure passed 57% to 41%.
Proposition 17 — Restores Voting Rights for Persons on Parole
Prop 17 would “amend the state Constitution to restore voting rights to persons who have been disqualified from voting while serving a prison term as soon as they complete their prison term—essentially extending the right to vote to those on state parole.”
This proposition is part of a nationwide effort to restore civil rights to citizens returning to society from incarceration. According to the L. A. Times, this measure passed 59% to 41%.
Proposition 20 — Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection
Prop 20 would make four changes to California criminal law: it would “increase criminal penalties for some theft-related crimes; change how people released from state prison are supervised in the community; make changes to the process created by Proposition 57 (2016) for considering the release of inmates from prison; and would require state and local law enforcement to collect DNA from adults convicted of certain crimes.”
This proposition was backed by law enforcement groups and was opposed by reform-oriented groups. According to the L. A. Times, this measure failed 62% to 38%.
Proposition 25 — Replaces Cash Bail with Risk Assessments
Prop 25 would “approve a 2018 law, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), that replaced the money bail system (for obtaining release from jail before trial) with a system based on determination of public safety and flight risk; and limits the detention of a person in jail before trial for most misdemeanors.”
This proposition was initially backed by reform groups and some moderate members of law enforcement who perceive bail unfairly penalizing those who are presumed innocent. It faced stiff opposition from the bail industry as well as members of the reform community who expressed concern that the algorithm used to determine public safety and flight risk might be formulated with an implicit bias against specific racial and ethnic groups. According to the L. A. Times, this measure failed 55% to 45%.
UPDATE: 7:00PM PT, NOV. 4
There were three Los Angeles Superior Court runoff elections on the ballot on Tuesday. In each of the three, one of the candidates was a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, and each of those prosecutors hold a substantial lead in their respective races.
Here is a recap of where each of those races stand:
Superior Court Office No. 72
In the race for Office No. 72, the L.A. Times recognized the strong commitment of law professor Myanna Dellinger to addressing “racial equity and animal trophy hunting” but endorsed L.A. Prosecutor Steve Morgan in this race based on his trial experience. Morgan leads 52% to 48%.
Superior Court Office No. 80
In the race for Office No. 80, the Times recognized Deputy DA David Berger’s 24 years of experience as a criminal prosecutor and his evolution from “an old-school tough-on-crime prosecutor to one who recognizes the importance of rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration.” While they acknowledged Klint James McKay considerable experience as an administrative law judge, they deemed Berger the better choice. Berger leads 57-43.
Superior Court Office No. 162
And finally, in the race for Office No. 162, the Times eschewed endorsing Scott Andrew Yang, “a young deputy district attorney who has acknowledged using his middle name on the primary ballot to capitalize on the name recognition of then-presidential candidate Andrew Yang.” Instead, they endorsed David D. Diamond, who they said “brings some of the breadth of experience it would be nice to have more of on the bench [as a family lawyer, a civil litigator and a criminal defense lawyer], yet he’s also got solid trial experience.” Though the Times endorsed Diamond, Yang leads 54-46.
We will refresh this post throughout the week with any updates on each of these elections.