John McKinney (Courtesy photo)

“I think Mr. Gascón has taken us a little too far to one side, and we’ve lost our ability to hold people accountable. If we can’t hold people accountable, we can’t rehabilitate. We can’t correct behavior. We can’t make people who are actually victims of crime feel that they’ve received some sense of justice, so that’s really what’s driving me,” said prosecutor John McKinney, who is running for Los Angeles District Attorney.

McKinney, who has handled many high-profile prosecutions for the DA’s office for over 25 years, feels that there is a void in law enforcement at the district attorney level, and he wants to try to help young people avoid the criminal justice system altogether.

Related Links:


Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney Discusses his Life, the Law, and the Murder Trial of Nipsey Hussle 


“I have this amazing life experience of growing up low-income without a father, raised by a single female during one of the most troubling periods in our history, that being the crack cocaine epidemic when violent crime was much higher,” McKinney said. “I think I didn’t realize it then. But that was a classroom for me. That served me later in the role that I would have as a prosecutor.”

Growing up in that environment allowed McKinney to understand the pitfalls that young Black and brown men face at an early age. He also witnessed many of his friends fall into the drug hustle and the criminality and victimization that goes with that. As tricky as a DA’s office can be, McKinney said that it never came close to the adversity he experienced by 10 -years- old.

“There are a lot of temptations that 15, 16,17-year-olds face and a lot of peer pressure to do things that they know are wrong. But the payout seems like it might be worth it. So, I get it. I understand it. I also know how to navigate that. I had to buy into the idea that gratification can come later. I had to understand as a young man that I was going to live beyond 25,” McKinney said.

If elected, McKinney hopes to launch the first-of-its-kind outreach, education and mentorship program for young people, boys and girls, emphasizing Black and Latino boys.

He also focuses on community empowerment work. He wants to open an educational program for adults that allows community members to come in for a few weekends and see the work done in the DA’s office. McKinney considers it a behind-the-scenes look to become more aware of the system.

McKinney also wishes to make the community feel heard and supported with improved communication and addressing neighborhood problems before they become “criminal.”

“I have an idea for what I call the Community Justice unit and that is to put a prosecutor in every neighborhood to be a liaison between the neighborhood and the DA’s office. Try to reach the DA right now… there’s nobody for people to call,” McKinney said.

McKinney encourages voters to look at some of the folks endorsing him; he has a broad array of support from labor unions, Republicans and Democrats, law enforcement and leaders in the Black community.

Other goals of McKinney include less incarceration, more innovative thinking, and a deep concern about what’s going on in “our” community with violence toward women.

“I’m authentic, I’m genuine. I’m not just doing this because I want another job in the DA’s office. I’m doing this because I really think I can change the way people are living their lives. That’s the goal. Change the way, especially our young men are living their lives,” McKinney said.