The newly elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has changed his policy to remove penal amendments and will now allow them in cases involving the most vulnerable victims and in certain “exceptional” circumstances.
Gascon has encountered significant opposition both inside and outside the prosecution since he announced his order to prosecutors to stop seeking improvement, increasing the sentences for some of the accused, including ex-criminals or gang members, or for those who committed hate crimes can prolong violence against the police.
In a letter addressed to the community and published Friday afternoon, Gascon said his office would seek penalties only for hate crimes, crimes against children and the elderly, and other crimes that meet certain criteria.
The new policy comes after extensive discussions with crime victims, their lawyers, community members and prosecutors in his office, the district’s chief prosecutor said.
Former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is replacing LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey. He has had a long career in law enforcement, including 20 years with the LAPD, where he rose to assistant chief and police chief in two other cities. He speaks to NBC4’s Conan Nolan about why he wants the job as LA’s top prosecutor.
“Almost all of the concerns I have heard relate to my policy of ending all improvements,” Gascon wrote. “In order to respond to your input, I’ve decided to make some adjustments to my original instructions.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League issued a bubbly statement calling Gascon a “politician” rather than a seasoned prosecutor.
“George Gascon is offering a MasterClass on the dangers of a politician who runs the prosecutor’s office instead of an experienced prosecutor,” the statement said. “It took a national outcry to understand that child rapists, human traffickers and perpetrators of violent hate crimes should spend more time behind bars.
Even so, he’s still ready to spare gang members who terrorize our neighborhoods or criminals who shoot police officers in the back of the head. He still doesn’t understand that crime victims need an authentic voice for justice, not a politician saying one thing and doing another – we’ve had enough of that. ”
Conan Nolan’s one-on-one conversation on NBC4 with Eric Garcetti, Los Angele Mayor, continues. The mayor speaks on issues that deserve his immediate attention, including morale at the LAPD, the growing city deficit – will he get the money from Washington? – and allegations of tolerated sexual harassment in his office. He shares news of a new 24-hour program, which deals with …
The amended policy addresses concerns of vulnerable victims – children, the elderly, and groups affected by their real or perceived race or ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or mental or physical disability.
However, the office will continue its policy of halting the search for gang and other penal amendments, including those made available to prosecutors through California’s 1994 Three Strikes Act.
The California Penal Code contains more than 100 improvements. “Excessive detention – the practice of sending people into jails and jails for too long – does not increase security,” the prosecutor said shortly after he took office on December 7th.
“It actually harms our security.” He called gang and other punishment improvements “a main driver of mass detention”.
“They are out of date, incoherent and applied unfairly,” he said. “Also, there is no compelling evidence that they improve public safety.”
Research has found that people serving excessive sentences are more likely than those serving proportional sentences with rehabilitative or restorative purposes to commit crimes when they return to the community, creating more victims in the future, according to the DA office .
Gascon said past criminal policies “undermine rehabilitation, exacerbate racial and other inequalities in our judicial system, and decimate families and communities. They are also crowding prisons and jails, and exacerbating the COVID pandemic behind bars. “