New Los Angeles County DA won't be prosecuting much of anything

Los Angeles County swore in its new District Attorney yesterday and George Gascon wasted no time in announcing that things were going to be changing in a big way in America’s largest county court system. For one thing, they probably won’t be needing as many prosecutors as they’ve traditionally employed because Gascon is going to ensure that most crimes won’t be prosecuted anymore. That may sound like a bit of hyperbole to you, but it’s not. Gascon ran on a platform of shutting down the “incarceration nation,” as we’ve seen recently in other cities such as Philadelphia and New York. The ink wasn’t even dry on his new contract before he announced a laundry list of offenses that will be “declined” by his office if the LAPD attempts to bring any charges against violators. (LA Times)

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón announced sweeping policy changes as he took office Monday, including a plan to end the use of cash bail in the nation’s largest court system and a ban on his prosecutors seeking sentencing enhancements in nearly all cases.

The dramatic reversals to deeply engrained, traditional law enforcement strategies in the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office also include plans to review of thousands of old cases to determine whether lighter sentences or a prisoner’s release should be sought, Gascón said in speech after being sworn in. Gascón also said he expects to bring an end to misdemeanor prosecutions of most first-time, non-violent, offenders.

“I recognize for many this is a new path … whether you are a protester, a police officer or a prosecutor, I ask you to walk with me. I ask you to join me on this journey,” he said.

Here’s a partial list of crimes, announced on Twitter, for which virtually all criminals will be getting a pass.

This is just staggering. There are a couple of categories of crime where we could certainly debate the issue, such as prostitution. But for the most part, the rest of these offenses comprise a list of tools that police officers have (or at least had) at their disposal to curb more serious crimes. Trespassing rarely turns into a situation where an arrest is warranted unless the offender is planning something more serious. And decriminalizing acts of resisting arrest means that anyone caught committing a crime can feel free to either attempt to flee the police or try to fight their way out of the situation.

Yes, the new DA is offering “exemptions” to this leniency, generally involving those who are repeat offenders. But in the vast majority of cases, how are the cops supposed to know who is or isn’t a repeat offender before they’ve got the cuffs on them and can check their identification?

Gascon is also eliminating almost all cash bail. This is the same disastrous experiment that’s been running in New York City and Philadelphia with tragic results. Crime is on the rise in both cities, approaching levels we’ve not seen since the bad old days of the 80s and early 90s. And now the City of Angels wants to sign on and join the same club. Keep in mind that Los Angeles County is home to some of the most notorious gang turf in the country. Compton was the launching point of the world’s awareness of the existence of the Crips and the Bloods. The LAPD has done an admirable job of tamping down gang violence over the past couple of decades, making much of the city safer than other gang havens like Baltimore and Chicago. But now it’s apparently going to be open season again.

Why would anyone choose to continue to live in a place where the government is openly admitting that they won’t make an effort to keep its law abiding citizens safe on the streets and in their own homes? None of this means that we should feel much sympathy for the residents of Los Angeles County, however. Keep in mind that Gascon ran on a very clear platform of doing precisely what we’re seeing being rolled out this week. He wasn’t hiding his intentions in any way. This is what you Agnelinos voted for and this is what you’re getting. Now you can live with the results. Well… at least some of you, anyway.