DA Gascón Backtracks on Progressive Policies Amid Spike in Crime, Public Backlash

Challenged Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón appears to be backing away from a number of harsh progressive instructions he announced, according to a sequence of memos he sent to his staff Friday.

Gascón admitted in five documents, two to deputy district attorneys and three to his rest of the office, that he started to understand his guidelines were too rigid “after having listened to the public, victims, and peers.”

Soon after taking office, he prohibited deputy district attorneys from seeking the death penalty, life in prison without parole, augmenting charges for notably heinous crimes, or prosecuting juveniles in adult criminal court in grievous cases.

Politically Motivated

His Friday memos rescinded all of those edicts, except for the one about avoiding the death penalty.

Critics labeled the moves “shame and mirrors” and politically motivated as Gascón prepares to face a second recall petition just over one year after taking office.

Law enforcement officials, as well as Gascón’s own DAs, have slammed his unbending directives as a major boost to criminals. 

According to prosecutors, a 26-year-old person accused of child rape began trying to identify herself as a woman, following his arrest in 2014 for assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

Hannah Tubbs agreed to plead guilty in juvenile court after Gascón’s office flatly refused to transfer the case to adult criminal court. Tubbs faces a maximum sentence of fewer than 24 months in a juvenile prison, alongside other girls.

Gascón also noted while exclusions from his past policies may now be desired, they will have to be approved higher up the chain of command via a new bureaucratic process that involves loyal officials.

Hatami stated he is likely feeling the strain of public outrage over an astounding rise in crime and a spike in homicides.

Actions Speak Louder

Gascón’s special adviser, Alex Bastian, argued the memos demonstrate the DA’s “unwavering commitment to his principles.”

“One of these basic tenets is we must constantly refine our efforts in order to continue to improve public safety in a thoughtful way,” he said Friday night.

“He has listened to local residents, victims, and colleagues for over a year into his term. We are implementing these policy changes in light of everything we have learned.”

Hatami, who gained notoriety as the lead prosecutor in the notorious Gabriel Fernandez child abuse case, was not convinced.

According to LAPD statistics, 397 homicides occurred in the City of Los Angeles during Gascón’s first full year in office. This is the highest level in 14 years.

Before being elected District Attorney in Los Angeles County, Gascón, 67, was San Francisco’s police chief. Also, he later succeeded current Vice President Kamala Harris as the city’s district attorney, which was a job she had held before.