Facing a recall effort and a rising tide of resentment on the mounting crime wave in Los Angeles County, District Attorney George Gascon is revising his approach – but keeping his opposition to the death penalty.
Gascon isued a memo to his staff on Friday on seeking life sentences and filing cases against juvenile offenders in adult court.
A new committee will review motions filed by prosecutors requesting to transfer cases involving minors accused of murder, violent sexual assaults, and other serious crimes out of the juvenile department and into adult court.
Additionally, special enhancements for felony charges are back. The enhancements could add additional sentences on certain crimes. Prosecutors can seek a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole “where it is deemed such filings are appropriate,” according to the new policy.
Gascon’s memo indicated he would maintain his “no death penalty” stance and is still committed to ending mass incarceration. However, “After listening to the community, victims and colleagues, I understand that there may be the rare occasion where the filing of special circumstance allegations may be necessary.”
Gascon faces his second recall effort. Crime is rising in Los Angeles and citizens accuse Gascon of avoiding harsher sentences that may mitigate it. The Los Angeles County Sheriffs recently bypassed local prosecutors and went directly to federal authorities to seek enhancements on a gang’s robbery and murder of an LAPD officer.
Critics contend the new Gascon policies are mere lipstick on a pig, with one calling it a “smoke screen,” because Gascon supporters will still be calling the shots.
The Gascon recall movement mirrors a similar one in San Francisco, where a recall is underway for District Attorney Chesa Boudin.