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January 25, 2021

Some prosectors concerned LA's new progressive prosecutor is progressing too far

Last month I noted in this post that L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón made a lot of bold policy changes in his first day in office.  Now this new Politico article, headlined "California prosecutors revolt against Los Angeles DA’s social justice changes," highlights the push-back these policy changes are engendering.  Here are excerpts:

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón ran on a vow to shake up America’s largest law enforcement jurisdiction. Sweeping progressive changes followed — and so has the California backlash.

Within weeks of taking office, Gascón instructed prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty and trying juveniles as adults.  He ordered a halt to most cash bail requests and banned prosecutors from appearing at parole hearings.  Most controversially, he barred prosecutors from seeking various sentencing enhancements.

Even if expected, Gascón’s moves have set off a political confrontation of unprecedented magnitude.  Rank-and-file Los Angeles prosecutors have revolted and sought to block their new boss in court.  District attorneys elsewhere in California have said they will not share cases with Gascón....

The widening battle offers a high-profile microcosm for larger tensions roiling law enforcement in California and around the country.  The outcome will substantially impact Los Angeles and send a message to prosecutors everywhere.  Once a pioneer in stringent penalties that drove an incarceration boom, Los Angeles is now the hub of a struggle over the course of criminal justice.

“He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do during the campaign,” transition spokesperson Max Szabo said. “There’s certainly backlash, but we can’t as a system of justice change course based on that backlash and ignore what the broader public has asked for.”...

“This is the first time that a district attorney in Los Angeles County is using data, science and research instead of fear and emotion to drive policy decisions,” Szabo said.  “Enhancements have never been shown to enhance safety, but excessive sentences have been shown to exacerbate recidivism and therefore create more victims of crime in the future.”

January 25, 2021 at 10:11 PM | Permalink


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