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LA’s D.A. Steve Cooley and SF’s D.A. George Gascon Square Off About Realignment, 3- Strikes Reform, & the Death Penality

Today, Friday, KQED together with the Center for Investigative Reporting wraps up their excellent and informative week-long series called PRISON BREAK that is all about realignment and the changing face of California’s criminal justice system

The half hour segment that will air tonight at 7:30 pm, is in two parts. The first part is an remarkably detailed overview of the issue—reported by my friend Michael Montgomery—that will give you a clear idea of what realignment is all about, what challenges and opportunities it presents, and the myriad ways it could affect the health and well being of our state and of our individual counties.

The second half of Friday’s program features twinned interviews with the District Attorneys from California’s two most populous cities—LA’s Steve Cooley and San Francisco’s George Gascon. (It should be noted that, as the former Assistant Chief and head of operations of the LAPD, under Bill Bratton, Gascon knows LA pretty well too.)

As they are questioned by KQED’s Scott Shafer, Cooley and Gascon and square off over the value—or lack thereof—of realignment—and come down on two very different sides of the question.

Cooley displays the most law-and-order side to his personality as he portrays realignment as an unfolding disaster.

In contrast, Gascon comes across as a man with a more nuanced view of the future of criminal justice, and a broader grasp of the possibilities that realignment presents.

And finally, the videos at the top of this post are extra two clips from the outtakes of Friday night’s show in which Cooley and Gascon agree about the proposed 3-Strikes reform, Prop. 36, and then disagree mightily on the topic of the death penalty, and Prop. 34, the ballot measure that would end the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.


  • Wow, Cooley states realignment is a disaster, really? The consequences of realignment will rest on the shoulders of the taxpayers – citizens of California. The scoreboard will be updated with the blood of its victims. As this mass release programs begins to unfold, we will watch the Part 1 crime rate begin to take a noticeable upswing and then a noticeable spike as the numbers increase.

    This is what happens when “progressives” take control of government. We’ve seen it over the last four years with Obama’s administration and we have seen it over the last twenty years in California. Sacramento was warned for at least the last twenty years about the need to build additional State prisons due to the expanding inmate population. Instead of getting ahead of the public safety power curve, the liberal, progressives have been trying to figure out how to love hardcore killers and gang members back into the mainstream of society. Rehabilitation does not and will never work with these types of individuals. It is a proven fact, yet, the liberals say they know better. Throw millions upon millions, billions upon billions into wasteful feel-good rehabilitation projects and what do you have to show for it? Explosive revolving door inmate populations that caused the Federal courts to say do something about overcrowding.

    And, the inept progressive legislature have come up with the master plan. Release inmates back into the streets. Oh, this will be an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. And back to the scorecard, it will all be done with the blood of innocent people. History will simply repeat itself, again. Yep, just gotta love that liberal and progressive mindset. As long as “they” feel good about everything, then the masses will suffer. After all, it’s not about us, is it? It’s all about “them,” our elected officials and like minded “community leaders.”

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: Cheap advice, I urge you to watch the video linked to on realignment. Because I think you’re responding to a lot of the bad reporting that has been out there about what realignment means. There is no mass release. None. Nada. Zip. That has been misreported over and over again.

    I repeat, there is not—nor has there been—early release from prison under realignment. It hasn’t happened. Nor is it planned.

    If the Sheriff releases people early from the jails, that’s his choice. But he’s been doing that for a while, having nothing to do with realignment. Again, realignment is not about early release. Never was. Never has been. Seriously, look it up. That is an utter myth, I promise.

    It’s about transferring the responsibility for lock-up of certain inmates to the counties, instead of the state. (Nobody is being being transfered OUT of state lock-up to the jails. It’s only some of the new people going in—most of them short timers in for 6 months or less— who will serve their time in jail, rather than going upstate.

    The other thing that realignment does is to transfer the post re-release responsibility for certain inmates to the counties—AKA to probation for oversight, instead of them being under state control, on parole, when they get out. But again, they aren’t getting out early. There’s no prisoner dump.

    If you got all the facts, you might still be against realignment. But I urge you to look at some of the KQED stuff since it’s unusually well reported.

    PS: I don’t mean to pick on you. The above has to do with my frustration with the bad reporting on the issue.

  • Cooley created the disaster and now he gets to have an opinion? Seriously, everyone in the DAs office thinks Cooley is a joke. He and his managers have done nothing to prevent the realignment crisis that was looming for over 10 years. They did nothing to reform their office and they are cashing in heavily.

    Cleste, you should investigate the amount of money being sent to LA County by the state as a result of the number of people being sent to state prison. The more felons Cooley creates, the more cash the Board of Supervisors recieves for law enforcement. Who is Cooley’s best buddy? Michael Antonovich. Who distributes the money from the state for AB 109? Michael Antonovich et al. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Cooley is sending more people to state prison than ever before; therefore, cashing in for LA. Cooley has overwhelmed the system and now the most violent will be let out. Cooley will have blood on his hands and is directly to blame for his mismanagement when the next person is out early and murders someone.

  • Speaking of “Feel Good” programs, how about the DARE program. How long has it been around?

    The drug abuse rates among kids (and now adults) who are DARE graduates? UNCHANGED.

    But hey, there are people making six figure salaries off the program. And hey, it makes us feel really good about what we are trying to do. No matter it doesn’t work. Let’s keep pouring billions annually down the “Feel Good” rat hole.

    lol…the DARE program is a perfect example of wasting money and time on “Feel Good” programs.

    Hey, if the intentions are good, it’s all worth it, right?


  • RE: the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)program.

    Why do you D.A.R.E. is a “feel good” program and a total waste of money? Isn’t feeling good worth something?

    What about the D.A.R.E. logo sweatshirts and baseball caps that are favored by drug dealers?

    They can reduce the anxiety of going out in public. The D.A.R.E. attire reassures people that you are not a drug dealer even though they noticed that you look like an ex-con or a drug dealer.

    Its a fact that D.A.R.E. has had measurable success. I recall reading the conclusions of a longitudinal study of kids who participated in the D.A.R.E. program.

    Those kids scored slightly higher for illicit drug use in later years than kids who had never participated in any organized program (not D.A.R.E. or any equivalent program.

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