Biography

District Attorney George Gascon

SFDA'S OFFICE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

DA's Honors and Awards

  • The first Latino to hold office in San Francisco.
  • Named among Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal
  • Distinguished by the ADL with its Civil Rights Award
  • Distinguished by the Southern California Leadership Network with its Visionary Award

Conviction Rates

  • 87% felony trial conviction rate in 2017
  • 82% misdemeanor trial conviction rate in 2017
  • in 2016, 14% of the overall caseload consists of theft crimes which is up 3% since 2011
  • In 2016, prosecution of burglaries and robberies went up 2% and 5%, respectivley, as a share of the caseload since 2011 

Innovation and Reform

  • LEAD SF
  • Bail Reform and Public Safety Assessment Tool
  • Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB)
  • Young Adult Court
  • Neighborhood Courts
  • Crime Strategies Unit
  • Sentencing Planner Program
  • Blue Ribbon Panel
  • The San Francisco Sentencing Comission
  • Prop 36 and Prop 47
  • Make it Right
  • DA Stat
  • Secure Our Smartphones Initiative (SB 962)
  • Consumer Arrest Record Equity Act (SB 393)
  • Immigration Consequences for Victims/Witnesses (SB 785)
  • Victims Bill - SB 562
  • 8 "Advisory Boards"
  • Opposed contruction of new jail
  • Advocacy for more mental health resources
  • Revamped the Victim Services Divison to extend more services to victims of crime
  • Created the Consumer Fraud Hotline
  • Created the Hate Crime Hotline
  • Two new therapy dogs to the office
  • "Safer Together" and a trauma informed approach.
  • Operation Cold Day
  • Gun Enforcement Unit
  • Mass Casualty Grant
  • Weekend Rebooking
  • Taking Prosecutors to San Quentin
  • Vision Zero Public Ed Campaigns

District Attorney George Gascón

Biography

George Gascón is the District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. He is the first Latino to hold the office in San Francisco, and the nation’s first police chief to become District Attorney.

In the many positions Gascón has held throughout his career—the Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, Chief of Police in San Francisco, and, most recently, District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco—his commitment to fairness, service, and public safety has been steadfast.

Since his appointment in January 2011 as the District Attorney, 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, the Anti-Defamation League recently honored him with its prestigious Civil Rights Award, and the Southern California Leadership Network distinguished him with its Visionary Award.

Today, Gascón, and his work, are defined by the same notions of fairness, public safety, service, and critical thought that have been consistent throughout his life. In addition to his criminal justice work at the local, state, and national level, Gascón has worked on public safety initiatives in Latin America and the Middle East. He is a board member of the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, a graduate of the FBI’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 holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Western State University, College of Law.  


Early Reform Efforts

Throughout his tenure, he has implemented out-of-the-box solutions to build a public safety model predicated on intelligently preventing crime. In taking office, Gascón immediately implemented and launched DA Stat, an internal data collection tool, to inform data-driven prosecution. In the wake of a nationwide uptick in thefts of mobile devices, he responded with precision with the novel global effort known as the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative that resulted in Senate Bill 962 and a drastic reduction in robberies involving smartphones worldwide. To begin better understanding public safety concerns, he assembled the first of now 8 “Advisory Boards” consisting of key community stakeholders. In fact, Gascón’s latest addition, the Formerly Incarcerated Advisory Board, is the first of its kind for a prosecutor’s office.


Cutting Edge Innovation and Out-of-the-Box Solutions

More recently, 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. Similarly, in taking a bigger-picture approach to enhancing public safety, Gascón’s leadership has resulted in the City and County of San Francisco receiving a 26-month grant award to pilot LEAD SF, an innovative pre-booking diversion program designed to decrease recidivism rates of repeat, low-level drug offenders in the City.

 LEAD SF and the PSA tool are just the latest in Gascón’s pioneering efforts to critically re-think meaningful criminal justice reform in San Francisco. To date, he has also established innovative platforms such as the Sentencing Planner (SP) program, which incorporates individualized sentences for justice-involved individuals to reduce recidivism. He has created the Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) to develop innovative strategies to detect and target larger scale criminal enterprises, and has been the driving force behind the Young Adult Court, the first-of-its- kind collaborative court for young adult defendants between the ages of 18-25.


Reducing Over-Incarceration

Gascón has also taken substantial steps to reduce over-incarceration, creating alternative approaches to traditional prosecution through Neighborhoods Courts, the San Francisco Sentencing Commission, and Make it Right. He was also a driving force behind Proposition 36, Proposition 47, Senate Bill 393, and served as the leading voice opposing the construction of a new jail in favor of more resources towards mental health.


Declining Crime Rates

Throughout his career, Gascón’s leadership has led to declining crime rates in each of the cities he has served as chief of police, from Mesa, AZ, one of the country’s most conservative cities, to San Francisco, CA, one of the most liberal big cities in the United States.

As the San Francisco District Attorney, Gascón has been equally committed to the same goal of reducing crime. Gascón has reprioritized the office’s resources to target serious crimes. In 2016, the office’s prosecution of theft crimes was 14% of its overall caseload; a 3% increase compared to corresponding figures for 2011. Similarly, the prosecution of burglaries have grown to 11% (compared to 6% in 2011) and the prosecution of robberies to 6% (compared to 4% in 2011). At the same time, drug prosecutions have been deemphasized and more lower-level offenders committing victimless crimes have been diverted through collaborative courts to create a safe and more cost-effective criminal justice system; Neighborhood Courts, for example, has had nearly 2,000 successfully completed cases since its inception.


A Comprehensive Public Safety Model

Understanding that a truly comprehensive public safety model must address the harm caused to victims, Gascón has supported legislation to expand victims’ rights, and revamped the office’s Victim Services Division. Specifically, he has created channels for victims of consumer or hate crimes to report their abuse, welcomed two new victim services dogs to the office, and partnered with community organizations through “Safer Together” to bring a trauma-informed approach to serving victims in high-crime and violent neighborhoods. Gascón has made serving victims of crime a key public safety strategy as research clearly shows that hurt people are more likely to hurt people. In 2016, the Victim Services Division served 8,476 victims compared to 5,197 in 2011, and assisted more than 2,000 victims access $1.6 million in State Victims Crime Compensation for lost wages, medical, mental health, and funeral expenses.


Building Community Trust in Law Enforcement

Gascón has also prioritized building trust between law enforcement and the community. Recently, he secured funding to create the Independent Investigations Bureau within the office to investigate and prosecute acts of unconstitutional policing. He assembled the Blue Ribbon Panel to investigate the SF Police Department in the wake of a scandal involving more than 14 SFPD officers exchanging racist and homophobic text messages.


Tackling Racial Disparities

Recognizing the importance for self-assessment and continued growth, Gascón has incorporated weekly trainings for attorneys in the office, “bootcamps” for new prosecutors, and office-wide meetings on topics salient to the work of the office. Recently, for example, Gascón welcomed an expert on implicit bias to lead multiple office-wide trainings. Building on the lessons of these trainings, he worked with the office’s Implicit Bias Workgroup to host the office’s first-ever Implicit Bias Challenge to encourage members of the office to evaluate the impact of implicit bias on their work. Similarly, in a continued effort to understand the office’s impact at an institutional level, Gascón recently commissioned a report by independent researches to conduct an analysis of prosecutorial decisions and racial disparities within San Francisco’s criminal justice system.