Newly elected District Attorney George Gascon held a midday press conference December 16 to announce the creation of an advisory board consisting of victims of crime.
“The purpose of the of the advisory board is to solicit input from survivors to inform his policies,” said Maxwell Szabo, spokesperson for Gascon.
The press conference outlined the new process of not seeking enhancements for crimes, which has drawn the ire of victims and prosecutors who will no longer be able to seek penalties, to the fullest extent of the law, despite the District Attorney arguing sentencing enhancements serve no public benefit.
“Sentencing enhancements or other sentencing allegations, including under the Three Strikes Law, shall not be filed in any cases and shall be withdrawn in pending matters,” said Gascon.
Those familiar with the special directive issued by Gascon on December 15 believes he is trying to circumvent the law.
“In order to strike a prior, a judge has to find that there is either insufficient evidence or it’s in the interest of justice,” said an anonymous commenter on social media. “Gascon is trying to get around this.”
Gascon’s office has confirmed that sentencing enhancements will no longer be sought in hate crimes which was addressed in a letter from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“We are concerned eliminating hate crime enhancements in all cases could send the wrong message,” said Jeffrey Abrams, Regional Director of ADL Los Angeles.
Gascon is concerned that additional enhancements could prevent a parole board from releasing a prisoner who could have been rehabilitated while serving time.
Members of the advisory board applaud the efforts of the District Attorney who will no longer seek to lock victims up and effectively “throw away the key” because of the crimes they have committed.
“I plan on adding a different perspective to the conversation regarding gang motivated and gang related crimes,” said Skipp Townsend, executive director of 2nd Call. “I plan to provide insight that every community member labeled as a gang member is not always a criminal with a criminal mindset.”
LAPD officers recently came under fire for mislabeling community members as gang members and adding them to the states gang database which would make them eligible for sentencing enhancements under the previous District Attorney.
“Some community members react with emotions and become labeled as gang members because of their first offense and I will advocate for supportive services instead of harsher sentencing,” said Townsend.