Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is backing away from some of his most controversial policies as he faces a public outcry about lenient sentences, outrage about rising crime, and a newly-launched effort to force a recall election.
Gascón was elected in 2020 with the help of millions of dollars from left-wing billionaire George Soros, who has backed radical prosecutors across the country as Democrats pursue an agenda of “criminal justice reform.” Gascón and his allies have presided over a crime wave that has overwhelmed many Democrat-run cities and is becoming a major political issue.
Most recently, in Los Angeles County, Gascón faced criticism for the sentencing of a 26-year-old sex offender to juvenile prison for the violent assault of a 10-year-old girl that took place before the assailant’s 18th birthday. The case was tried in juvenile court because of Gascón’s policy of never trying juveniles as adults. As a result of the juvenile sentence, the convicted assailant, Hannah Tubbs, who has several other criminal convictions, will not have to register as a sex offender.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Gascón is now backing away from his policy on juvenile trials, and a few others:
Los Angeles County prosecutors can now seek to try juveniles as adults and pursue life sentences against defendants in certain cases, according to memos issued Friday by Dist. Atty. George Gascón, marking a major shift in his all-or-nothing stances on certain criminal justice reform issues.
Committees will be created to evaluate “extraordinary” cases where a defendant’s conduct might require harsher penalties than those allowed under Gascón’s policies, according to documents reviewed by The Times.
In cases involving juvenile defendants, that could mean transferring their cases to adult court. In murder cases, that means prosecutors can now seek to file special circumstance allegations against a defendant in certain situations — such as killing a police officer who is on duty or killing a witness — making them eligible for a maximum sentence of life without parole.
Under California law, defendants convicted of murder with special circumstances can only be sentenced to death or life without parole, but Gascón’s ban on the use of capital punishment was not affected by Friday’s announcement. Gov. Gavin Newsom has also issued a moratorium on the use of the death penalty statewide.
Democrats have refused to denounce prosecutors like Gascón, who was endorsed by the state’s political establishment. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti even switched his endorsement from incumbent Jackie Lacey, the first black woman to hold the job of L.A. District Attorney, to Gascón after Black Lives Matter targeted Lacey and Soros gave millions to Gascón’s campaign.
A second recall campaign was approved to begin gathering signatures last month, after a previous effort fell short last year.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.