George Gascon, the former district attorney for the city and county of San Francisco and a former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, confirmed this week he will challenge Jackie Lacey for Los Angeles County District Attorney.

With the Twin Towers jail serving as a backdrop, Gascon told reporters that LA places more emphasis on incarcerating people than it does on providing affordable housing.

“I want to bring reform to my hometown,” said the 65-year-old Gascon, who began his announcement by recalling what happened when he was stopped by sheriff’s deputies as a 17-year-old in East Los Angeles 48 years ago.

“They tore my car apart,” Gascon said.

While not referring to the incumbent by name, he said he wants to bring “respect and dignity” to the office so that everyone in the criminal justice system is treated the same “regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of what your past has been.”

Gascon said that while Los Angeles County has the largest jail system in the world, if leaders believe they can continue to use incarceration to solve the crime problem, “we are heading in the wrong direction.”

Gascon said the cost of keeping people behind bars takes away funds from such other important needs as providing affordable housing. He said that he himself was part of the problem in the 1980s and 1990s while a member of the LAPD.

“But I evolved,” Gascon said. “L.A. is stuck in the 1980s.”

Lacey on Monday released a campaign ad, touting what she called her efforts to divert people with mental health issues out of the criminal justice system. She also released a statement in response to Gascon’s announcement, saying, “I’d like to welcome San Francisco’s D.A. to Los Angeles County.”

“I’m proud of our office’s record of fighting for reform while keeping our community safe,” Lacey said. “We’ve implemented a groundbreaking focus on mental health and treatment rather than incarceration, expunged a million minor offenses for poor and struggling residents, cut juvenile hall cases in half and cracked down on sex crimes and human traffickers. I believe it’s possible to keep our residents safe and make our justice system fairer at the same time and I am looking forward to having that conversation.”

Former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced his support of Gascon’s candidacy.

“Taking on the status quo and reforming our most important institutions requires leadership, strength and a commitment to doing the right thing, even when it comes at great personal cost,” Beck said in a statement released by Gascon’s campaign.