BY TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who is under fire from families of some crime victims less than two weeks after his tenure over guidelines that in many cases should lead to lower sentences, said Wednesday he was ” troubled “about what He called” scare tactics “and vowed that those prosecuted under his administration would be held accountable.
With calls for a recall attempt pending, the newly appointed chief prosecutor for the district defended his decision to seek dismissal of penalty enhancements that may extend the defendants’ sentences, saying there was “sufficient evidence that penalty enhancements may not be us.” make it safer. “
Gascón – who said he had a “public mandate” and intended to “follow that mandate” – issued the directive, with the support of “survivors”, families and others in the field, “because it was the right thing to do.” . ”
Gascón announced last week that his office would stop prosecuting the death penalty, bringing teenagers to justice as adults, seeking bail for misdemeanors and non-serious, non-violent crimes, or adding gang and other enhancements to criminal charges.
“People who commit a crime and who should be prosecuted because we have the admissible evidence to move forward and we believe the person has committed a crime will be held accountable,” he said on Wednesday. “And that accountability will be proportionate to crime, and improvement has nothing to do with accountability.”
The district attorney, who was sworn in nine days ago, said he was honored to work with the men and women in the district attorney’s office “in a direction of reform, salvation, rehabilitation and an attempt to remove our criminal justice system from the EU very much detrimental effects of mass incarceration in recent decades. “
“I have to say, however, that I am a little concerned about the misinformation and scare tactics that I have seen over and over again over the past few days,” said Gascón. “It’s not surprising to me that people have benefited from a system that has affected the communities in so many negative ways without necessarily getting good results because they had a financial interest. I know that there are people in the criminal justice system in both the private and public sectors who have benefited greatly from mass imprisonment … “
He noted that he has established an advisory council for crime survivors.
Without going into the details of one of the first high-profile criminal cases brought under his administration, the prosecutor found that a defendant charged in a “terrible Lancaster case” could have been behind bars for “more than half a century” when he is doomed.
Gascón was referring to a double homicide case filed last week against Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., who is accused of beheading his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter and showing the remains of the victims to his two younger sons.
Taylor’s murder charge does not contain any particular circumstances that would have called him into question for the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
The district attorney said he had heard of the “hue and cry” of how the filing decision “might somehow provide less security for our community on this case.”
“What is the use of taking someone who is likely to spend the rest of their life in prison to add more years and waste taxpayers’ money on additional litigation,” he said.
In at least two cases over the past week, judges have refused to dismiss charges filed under Jackie Lacey’s previous tenure, and the issue is likely to arise in many other cases.
Two lawyers representing the families of crime victims have spoken out against the District Attorney’s new guidelines in the past few days.
“Did you know when you voted for the newly elected District Attorney that he would go to court and make special circumstances so that rapists and murderers could get back on the streets early? Did he tell you that? asked attorney Brian Claypool, who represents family members of two child murder victims.
Claypool noted his concern that the district’s chief prosecutor might try to overturn the death sentence of Isauro Aguirre, who is on death row in May 2013 for the murder of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez.
On his campaign website, Gascón pledged to “work with various stakeholders to try to sentence as many as possible of the 229 people currently on death row in Los Angeles county to other than death.”
A former Los Angeles district attorney, who now represents the family of a man who was killed in an accident by a driver allegedly under the influence of nitrous oxide, is battling Gascón’s efforts to drop major assault allegations in the case , and at least one other.
On Monday, Attorney Sam Dordulian urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to step in and remind Gascón that he is not a legislator and is required to carry out the laws on the books.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Koretz tabled a resolution against Gascón’s latest guideline to remove penal amendments, particularly those related to prosecuting hate crimes.
“While many of his specific guidelines are well-intentioned, I believe he missed the mark in removing specific enhancements for hate crimes prosecuted in the county,” said Koretz.
On its Facebook page, the Torrance Police Officers’ Association noted that the fallout from Gascón’s Penalty Enhancement Policy “affects more cases affected by penalty and appeal reductions,” and that senior executive assistant district attorneys are “frustrated and unclear Regarding Execution “are policy and concerned about retaliation if they fail to comply. “