Former public defender announces L.A. district attorney candidacy

Rachel Rossi enters race to become Los Angeles County district attorney. Courtesy photo

Former public defender Rachel Rossi announced Tuesday she is entering the race to become the next Los Angeles County district attorney, promising to bring a “new vision for (Los Angeles)” via change and reform. 

Rossi, 37, from the Inland Empire, is running to unseat District Attorney Jackie Lacey and is joined in the race by candidates George Gascon, a former San Francisco district attorney; and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys Joseph Iniguez and Richard Ceballos.  

On Tuesday, Rossi officially announced her candidacy in front of the Century Regional Detention Center in L.A., saying that her new vision for the county is one “where we fight homelessness, not the homeless; an L.A. where we no longer lead the country in incarceration rates; an L.A. that is safer; an L.A. that listens to, supports and makes whole all victims of crime; an L.A. that treats and heals those who are dealing with substance abuse and mental illness; and an L.A. that provides justice to all equally and an L.A. that criminalizes crime, not poverty.” 

Unlike her contenders with law enforcement and prosecutorial background, Rossi has six years of experience as a state and federal public defender in the county, where she represented persons experiencing homelessness, substance use disorders and mental distress or illness, according to a campaign press release Tuesday.

She also worked on criminal justice policy on the U.S. House and Senate sides. Rossi played a leading role in drafting the First Step Act, a federal criminal justice reform bill signed into law last year that essentially allows lower-risk inmates to earn an early release from prison and could lower prison sentences. 

The county district attorney’s office is the nation’s largest local prosecutorial agency and the county’s jail system, which includes Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, is the largest county jail system in the U.S.

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