On Dec. 7, 2020, George Gascón was sworn in as Los Angeles County District Attorney. In the more than 200 days since, Gascón has launched a series of special directives upending criminal prosecutions in Los Angeles County.
Gascón, never having tried a case in his career, decided to issue these special directives without any input from the vast number of prosecutors who have faithfully upheld the rule of law for their entire careers. These special directives sought to effectively abolish the Three Strikes Law by forcing prosecutors to not file or dismiss third strikes against some of the most violent or serious offenders in the system and took a shotgun approach to eliminating most sentencing enhancements on the books.
While Gascón may be motivated to rectify systemic racial imbalances against those perpetrating crimes, he forgot one of the central parties he swore to protect: the victims. The D.A.’s Office should be the victims’ champion in court since they, unlike the defendants, usually do not have their own lawyer promoting their interests. While Gascón has trumpeted data and academic studies about the racial disparities among those in custody, he ignores the real human victims — of all races and creed — whose lives have been decimated.
The uproar over his ill-planned policies affecting the most vulnerable victims was predictable. Victims of hate crimes, elder abuse, child and adult sexual abuse, and human sex trafficking could not believe that Gascón had just unilaterally struck down enhancements that the state Legislature had enacted to bring justice to these victims. Under Gascón’s original special directives, pedophiles and human sex traffickers were given more consideration than the victims whose lives they destroyed. Only under considerable pressure did Gascón buckle and reverse himself on these enhancements, without explaining why defendants who commit these crimes require different treatment than defendants who commit other violent or serious crimes.