George Gascón is the District Attorney for the city and county of San Francisco, California. He has earned a national reputation as a criminal justice visionary who uses evidence-based practices to lower crime and make communities safer. He is the first Latino to hold the office in San Francisco and is the nation’s first police chief to become District Attorney.
District Attorney Gascón has focused on making San Francisco the safest large city in America by working to implement a modern justice system that focuses on crime prevention, victims, and violent offenders. Throughout his 30-year career in law enforcement, he has successfully lowered crime by taking a surgical approach to crime and offenders and by seeking the right amount of intervention to change behavior and improve public safety. Despite a traditional prosecutor’s interaction with crime being largely reactive, District Attorney Gascón has put significant emphasis and resources into crime prevention. One less crime means one less tragedy and one less victim.
Since taking office, District Attorney Gascón has focused staff resources on more serious and violent offenders. In fact, drug prosecutions went from 63 percent of the office’s felony caseload in 2009 to 26 percent in 2013, allowing more resources to be focused on serious and violent crime. This has caused convictions for assault, domestic violence, and robbery to increase. In addition, homicides were down 36 percent in the first six months of 2014, and felony assault, gun, and robbery prosecutions were up 14 percent, 17 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2012 to 2013.
Looking to find alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders, District Attorney Gascón created the nation’s first Alternative Sentencing Program to support prosecutors in assessing risk and determining the most appropriate course of action for each case. The goal is to protect victims and the community by addressing offenders’ risk factors in order to break the cycle of crime and reduce recidivism.
In addition, District Attorney Gascón launched the Neighborhood Courts and Neighborhood Prosecution Program as a way to keep low-level offenders from entering the criminal justice system. The program takes nonserious cases away from overcrowded courtrooms and into the community, where trained neighborhood stakeholders can ensure that lawbreakers are accountable to victims and the community without criminalizing first-time, low-level offenders.
Under District Attorney Gascón’s leadership, San Francisco created the first Sentencing Commission in California, with the goal of reforming sentencing guidelines by applying evidence-based practices to prosecutions.
In addition to initiatives aimed at increasing the safety of San Francisco’s communities and reforming California’s criminal justice system, District Attorney Gascón is regarded as a leader in the effort to end the global epidemic of smartphone theft. In June 2013, in partnership with the New York State Attorney General and the Mayor of London, District Attorney Gascón launched the Secure Our Smartphones initiative in response to the growing number of violent smartphone thefts. The coalition now boasts over 300 public safety leaders, consumer advocates, and lawmakers. Since the formation of the coalition, the manufacturers that sell 97 percent of all smartphones sold in the United States have agreed to implement technology that research suggests will end the epidemic of smartphone theft.
A former high school dropout, District Attorney Gascón understands the importance of keeping kids in school to reduce violence and prevent crime. In partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, the District Attorney’s Office has launched innovative programs to reduce truancy, increase mentoring opportunities for youth, and reduce bullying.
District Attorney Gascón is also working to address crime underreporting by breaking down cultural and language barriers that prevent victims and witnesses from engaging with law enforcement. He expanded his office’s multilingual Victims Services Unit beyond the Hall of Justice and into community centers in the neighborhoods of Mission, Chinatown, Tenderloin, and Bayview Hunters Point.
District Attorney Gascón is a known innovator for his use of technology to prevent and predict crime. He improved the CompStat system at the Los Angeles, California, Police Department and introduced the system to the San Francisco Police Department during his tenure as Police Chief. District Attorney Gascón believes in using well-developed metrics and technology to drive organizational performance and improve public safety He is currently working on launching a version called “DA Stat” to the District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Gascón’s 30 years in law enforcement have taken him through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, from a patrol officer to Assistant Chief. He was Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, and Chief of Police in San Francisco. In addition to his criminal justice work at the local, state, and national levels, District Attorney Gascón has worked on public safety initiatives in Latin America and the Middle East. He is a board member of the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Executive Institute, and a member of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.
District Attorney Gascón has a juris doctor degree from Western State University College of Law and a bachelor of arts degree in history from California State University–Long Beach.
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