Written by Hannah Schmidtler
Recently elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gasćon ran on criminal justice reform, pushing for soft on crime policies. One of Gasćon’s most controversial policies is eliminating sentencing enhancements. Sentencing enhancements allow prosecutors to bring up non-criminal circumstances that make the crime more serious. Gasćon also plans to eliminate cash bail as well as prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty and from trying teenagers as adults.
Gasćon’s sentencing enhancement ban has faced criticism in a recent cop-killer case. Thirty-one year old Rhett Nelson, who is connected with multiple armed robberies, is also charged with two counts of murder. The victims are Dmitri Koltsov, a skateboarder, and Joseph Solano, an off-duty deputy. Los Angeles District Attorney Gasćon’s sentencing enhancement ban would allow the accused, Nelson, the possibility parole in 20 years for his murder charge by preventing the prosecutor from mentioning his history of armed robberies and his second murder charge. Summer Stephan, San Diego District Attorney, has been critical of Gasćon’s sentencing enhancement ban and requested that her office take the case so that Nelson can be properly prosecuted and the victims can receive justice. And in an unprecedented action, a superior court judge ruled to give Stephan control over the five armed robbery charges.
Summer wrote to Gasćon in harsh rebuke, “I do not want our San Diego County cases to be connected to any publicly-announced special directive that dismisses special circumstances and serious gun use allegations where your stated reason is ‘in the interest of justice,’ when clearly the facts of this defendant’s violent offenses show it is not.”
San Francisco District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert voiced similar concerns over Gasćons soft on crime policies, claiming that they are “illegal and unconstitutional.” In a letter to Gasćon, she voiced that she will not allow Gason jurisdiction over crimes in her region as long as his progressive policies remain. “I will never grant you jurisdiction over any crimes that involve Sacramento County while these policies of yours remain in place.”