LOS ANGELES - Families who have been torn apart by violence and senseless murders of their loved ones gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Hall of Justice Thursday.
They congregated to send a message to new LA County District Attorney George Gascón.
At issue are Gascón's new policies which these families say benefit only the defendants.
As Cynthia Carerra points out, "Someone who commits a crime has to pay. I don't really care what age you are. You committed a crime. You chose to commit a crime."
"Because of Gascón's policies, we won't have the minimum comfort of knowing that we won't run into these people in a couple of years," Alondra Palacio explained. "Two of the murders were minors, which means by the age of 25, they'll be out."
During his first day on the job, Gascón issued a number of directives that included eliminating all special enhancement allegations. A few days later, he reversed course, saying he would allow some sentencing enhancements. Under his new charging policy, approximately 20,000 inmates will now be eligible for resentencing consideration.
At the vigil, two deputy district attorneys had a lot to say about that.
Speaking at the podium, Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said, "Under these special directives, the DA wants to reconsider individuals who have served at least 15 years in state prison. That means murderers, serial rapists, very serious criminals. He doesn't want any DDAs to go to parole hearings. I don't understand that."
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney also spoke in front of the crowd, saying "We talk a lot about mass incarceration - and so we should - but we hardly speak at all about mass victimization. Unfortunately, victims of violence have become forgotten in this community." He later empathized with the crowd, saying "We will always stand with you. We see you, we hear you, and we support you."
District Attorney George Gascón
Many of the families are sharing their personal stories on a Facebook group called Recall George Gascon, and so far it has more than 35,000 followers. Members of that group are looking to recall Gascon, but they can't start the process until he's been in office for 90 days. After that, they're looking to obtain 500,000 signatures.