LA district lawyer backtracks on sentencing enhancements

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said he will be tracking one of the sweeping changes he announced when he took office earlier this month.

Gascon said Friday that he would allow his office to obtain tougher convictions for hate crimes, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, sex trafficking and some financial crimes.

Gascon had long argued that penal reforms lead to excessive prison sentences and target black and Latino defendants.

Gascon said he made the change after listening to the community, victims and prosecutors, KABC-TV reported.

“He is making changes based on the feedback he has received and based on the concerns he has received to ensure that improvements can and can be made in cases where vulnerable victims are involved,” said Max Szabo, deputy prosecutor and spokesman for Gascon’s transition team.

Judges in particular served as a roadblock in Gascon’s original plan. Four judges across the county have blocked the prosecutor’s attempt to refuse punishment amendments.

Gascon has made several key policy changes since taking office less than two weeks ago, including prohibiting prosecutors from petitioning for the death penalty or bringing teenagers to justice as adults.

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