LOS ANGELES - Newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón vowed to make sweeping policy changes, but days after saying there would be "no exceptions" to getting rid of all enhancements, he is changing course.
In a letter sent to all deputy district attorneys, Gascón said he is allowing sentence enhancements for certain crimes, they include hate crimes allegations, elder abuse allegations, child abuse allegations, child and adult sexual abuse, human sex trafficking, and financial crime allegations where the amount of financial loss to the victim is significant.
"After listening to the community, victims, and my deputy district attorneys, I have reevaluated Special Directive 20-08 and hereby amend it to allow enhanced sentences in cases involving the most vulnerable victims and in specified extraordinary circumstances," Gascón’s statement read.
Additional enhancements may be filed with written approval in cases of extraordinary circumstances where the victim has extensive physical injury inflicted upon them or in situations where a deadly weapon used exhibited an extreme and immediate threat to human life, the letter states.
This does not mean all enhancements are allowed.
According to the statement, the following sentence enhancements and allegations will not be pursued in any case.
• Any prior-strike enhancements (Penal Code section 667(d), 667(e), 1170.12(a) and 1170.12(c)) will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document. This includes second strikes and any strikes arising from a juvenile adjudication;
• Any Prop 8 or "5-year prior" enhancements (Penal Code section 667(a)(1)) and "three-year prior" enhancements (Penal Code section 667.5(a)) will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document;
• STEP Act enhancements ("gang enhancements") (Penal Code section 186.22 et. seq.) will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document;
• Special circumstances allegations resulting in an LWOP sentence shall not be filed, will not be used for sentencing, and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document;
• Violations of bail or O.R. release (Penal Code section 12022.1) shall not be filed as part of any new offense;
• Firearm allegations pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.53 shall not be filed, will not be used for sentencing, and will be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document.
The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League issued the following statement in response:
"George Gascon is providing a MasterClass on the dangers of a politician running the DA’s office instead of an experienced prosecutor. It took a national outcry for him to understand that child rapists, human traffickers, and perpetrators of violent hate crimes should spend some more time behind bars. Yet he’s still willing to go easy on gang members who terrorize our neighborhoods or criminals that shoot cops in the back of the head. He still doesn’t get that crime victims need an authentic voice for justice, not a politician that says one thing and does another, we have enough of those."
In his short time of being in office, Gascón’s policy changes have frustrated families of crime victims as well as deputy DA’s.