George Gascón (born 1954) is the District Attorney of San Francisco. He was appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom in January 2011 to succeed California Attorney General Kamala Harris. In November 2011, Gascón was elected as District Attorney of San Francisco.
|28th District Attorney of San Francisco|
|Assumed office |
January 9, 2011
|Preceded by||Kamala Harris|
|Chief of the San Francisco Police Department|
January 8, 2010 – January 9, 2011
|Preceded by||Heather Fong|
|Succeeded by||Greg Suhr|
|Born||1954 (age 64–65)|
|Residence||San Francisco, California|
|Alma mater||California State University, Long Beach|
Western State University College of Law
District Attorney George Gascón was born in Havana, Cuba in 1954. Gascón and his family immigrated to the United States in 1967 on a "Freedom Flight" approved by President Lyndon Johnson, and settled in Bell, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. After dropping out of Bell High School, Gascón served in the United States Army from 1972 to 1975. He quickly became the youngest sergeant in his brigade and earned his high school degree while simultaneously taking college extension courses.
District Attorney Gascón received a B.A. degree in History from California State University, Long Beach, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Western State University, College of Law. District Attorney Gascón is an active member of the California Bar Association, a former member of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government's Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, and a graduate of the FBI's National Executive Institute. He has authored numerous articles in national journals, published in the New York Times for various op-eds, and is a subject expert on community policing and police accountability.
Gascón is a subject matter expert in the areas of police accountability, community policing, police training, hiring practices, management, policing immigrant communities, and use of force. He has published articles on police training, the role of local police and unauthorized immigration, CompStat, and the economic cost of policing.
Chief of Police
George Gascón started his career in policing as a beat cop with the Los Angeles Police Department. In the late 1990s, Gascón was tasked with investigating management and supervision failures and revamping training in the wake of the Rampart Scandal. Later, then-Chief Bill Bratton made Gascón his Assistant Chief of Police.
DA Gascón has served as the Chief of Police in the most conservative and progressive counties in America. He first served as Chief of Police Mesa, Arizona from 2006 to 2009. As Chief, Gascón took on Arizona's right-wing anti-immigrant movement led by former Sherriff Joe Arpaio. In a conversation with WitnessLA Editor Celeste Fremon, DA Gascón spells out the constitutional violations that he says were committed by the sheriff “almost on a daily basis,” and discusses what it was like to work under Arpaio’s “reign of terror” (The Crime Report, 2017). He also created Mesa's first LGBT outreach group and protected protests by anti-Prop 8 groups in the face of pressure from the city's conservative political leadership.
In 2009, Gascón was named Chief of Police in San Francisco by then Mayor Gavin Newsom. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told the San Francisco Chronicle that Gascón is "the only Police Chief in the nation to become an elected District Attorney, and brings 30 years of law enforcement experience and a unique approach to public safety and reform. His remarkable journey from high school dropout to police chief to being the first Latino district attorney of San Francisco is an inspiration to young people and the diverse communities of our city."
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Gascón explained his approach to law enforcement as, “We are looking to repair the harm instead of looking to punish.”
As Chief of Police in the City and County of San Francisco beginning in 2009, Gascón worked efficiently to both revamp police training and improve police procedure.
District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco
In 2011, in his last act as Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom appointed George Gascón as San Francisco District Attorney. He was filling the seat that was vacated by an outgoing Attorney General-elect Sen. Kamala Harris. Since his appointment, Gascón has earned a national reputation as a visionary in criminal justice reform—he has been named among the Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal; he was recently honored with the Anti-Defamation League’s prestigious Civil Rights Award; the Southern California Leadership Network distinguished him with its Visionary Award; and WNBA All-Star Maya Moore's social action campaign, Win With Justice, presented him with its Impact Award.
Throughout his tenure, District Attorney Gascón’s commitment to fairness, service, and public safety has led him to implement out-of-the-box solutions to build a public safety model predicated on intelligently preventing crime. Upon taking office, Gascón immediately implemented and launched the nation’s first prosecutorial data management system, similar to CompStat, called DA Stat. This internal data collection tool informs data-driven prosecution.
The “Kill Switch” – Secure Our Smartphones
In the wake of a global uptick in violent robberies involving smartphones, Gascón spearheaded an international effort known as the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative. This initiative resulted in Senate Bill 962, landmark legislation requiring a “kill switch” on all smartphones sold in California. SB 962 is widely credited for ending the epidemic of violent smartphone robberies, with robberies involving smartphones falling over 50% in San Francisco, with similar reductions being seen in major cities around the world.
In 2014, in order to unwind the damage of the nation’s failed drug war, DA Gascón co-authored Proposition 47, a landmark initiative which reduced simple drug possession for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor. Proposition 47 has ensured that California is no longer warehousing those addicted to drugs in our jails and prisons. It has also reduced the sentencing disparity in San Francisco between Caucasians and African Americans by half. The $800,000 the state saves per day thanks to Proposition 47 is being redirected to K-12 education, treatment for people suffering from mental illness or addiction, and victims’ services. Research has shown that even as Proposition 47 has reduced California’s reliance on prisons and jails, crime in the nation’s largest state continues to fall.
Now California is warehousing those addicted to drugs on the streets creating one of the biggest homeless problems ever.
Ending Money Bail
DA Gascón was the first prosecutor in the nation to advocate for the end of money bail. He has steered the national conversation concerning the inherent inequities in the current system of money bail. Fundamentally rejecting the notion that release from custody be based on the size of one’s wallet, Gascón was instrumental in bringing the Public Safety Assessment (“PSA”) tool to San Francisco to assist courts in making bail decisions more equitably. Initial results indicate that, compared to defendants released by the PSA, double the percentage of defendants were arrested while they were out on bail or their own recognizance.
Eliminating Barriers to Reentry
In 2018, District Attorney George Gascón announced that he would apply Proposition 64 retroactively to every marijuana case since 1975 in order to level the playing field for those adversely affected by the criminalization of marijuana. The move cleared misdemeanor convictions and reduced felony convictions for those entitled for record relief under Prop 64, thereby expanding employment opportunities for thousands of San Franciscans. He later partnered with Code for America, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which uses principles and practices of the digital age to transform the way government delivers services to those most impacted by the criminal justice system in order to automate the process. The partnership kicked off a national movement resulting in dozens of cities across the country clearing marijuana convictions.
District Attorney George Gascón and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill 1076, a first-in-the-nation effort to automate arrest and conviction relief for those eligible under existing law. Using technology, AB 1076 will expand employment and housing opportunities for millions of Californians.
- City and County of San Francisco, Department of Elections  "Official Ranked-Choice Results Report November 8, 2011 Consolidated Municipal Election District Attorney"