Crime

Judge blocks LA County DA George Gascón’s attempt to end sentencing enhancements

Written by Sidiqa Atira

George Gascón is Los Angeles’ new progressive District Attorney, replacing the two-term incumbent Jackie Lacey. As the new DA, he has made new criminal justice reforms that have  LA county prosecutors up in arms. One of his most controversial policies is the elimination of sentencing enhancements. These enhancements can add years to prison sentences depending on the charge.

Prosecutors under Gascón have taken matters into their own hands and collectively decided to sue their new boss. According to the prosecutors, Gascón’s new policies violate state law and their oath of office.

Well on Monday, the courts provided a win for safer communities and a blow to Gascón’s radical policies. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary injunction, blocking some directives District Attorney George Gascón issued to end enhancements.

The court found that the District Attorney cannot order his prosecutors to ignore the law that is in place to protect the public from repeat offenders, especially in more impoverished areas where the masses are far more susceptible to higher crime.

“The court ruled as we expected in holding that the district attorney cannot order his prosecutors to ignore laws that protect the public from repeat offenders,” the union said in a statement. “The court ruled that the district attorney’s policy violated the law to benefit criminal defendants and ordered him to comply with the law. This ruling protects the communities which are disproportionately affected by higher crime rates and those who are victimized.”

Gascón argues that sentencing enhancements don’t make communities safer, however, he hasn’t made a case for how eliminating them will. He said he plans to appeal the decision.

Gascón has narrowed his sights, however, deciding that prison enhancements should remain for extraordinary circumstances like hate crimes, sexual abuse, child and elder abuse, sex trafficking, and financial crimes. To be clear, Gascón supports sentence enhancements for hate crimes, which can be very subjective in today’s polarizing political climate, and financial crimes as well, but doesn’t feel they should apply to murder and assault cases.

A District Attorney’s most important responsibility is to keep the public safe from dangerous criminals, but Gascón has quickly turned LA County’s legal system into a stage for his political agenda.

One could view Gascón’s directives as less reckless if he could logically explain how these so-called ‘advancements’ would protect the community, but he has not. He has stated that 2 million people voted for him because of his promise for “a system of justice based on science and data, not fear and emotion.” Though, the ‘science and data’ driving his radical ideas has yet to be seen. All those votes may also have something to do with the fact that Democrat mega-donor George Soros put $2.5M into getting Gascón elected, according to the California Globe.

Photo via Damian Dovarganes / AP file