George Gascón is his name, and I suspect we will be hearing it quite a bit in the future.
Gascón was sworn into office as the new District Attorney of Los Angeles this week and he has plans.
Let's start with the crimes that aren't crimes anymore. They're still on the books and all, but if a tree resists arrest in a forest and no one is there to prosecute it, is it still a crime?
Someone trespassing on your property?
First of all, is it really your property or are you occupying stolen land?
We'll save that for your mandatory Critical Race Theory training.
While trespassing may be a crime, and potentially terrifying if you are a young woman living alone, it's not a "crime crime," if you know what I mean.
There are exceptions, however. You cannot repeatedly trespass, but once or twice, no big deal!
And even if you are caught trespassing too much, it looks like you can resist arrest now.
I could really see how this could work out for someone.
You can make criminal threats now? Cool.
Unless it's a "hate crime."
But if you want to criminally threaten someone because you want their phone, it's fine as long as you don't want their phone because they are non-binary genderqueer.
Again, just don't do it too often. You've been given some wiggle room to make your criminal threats here, so don't abuse it.
We're trusting you.
Let's see, minor with alcohol, I guess that's okay now, public intoxication, that should spruce up a neighborhood, and loitering which will surely create a welcoming atmosphere, especially when your kids get off the bus.
To sum up this part, you can walk onto someone's property (after driving there without a license), underage, drunk, hang around for a while, making criminal threats, and when the police come (if they bother since no prosecutable crime has taken place yet), you can resist arrest.
It's all about quality of life.
By the way,
"These charges do not constitute an exhaustive list."
Good to know.
Which reminds me, Gascón has some experience in this area, so he knows exactly how this will turn out.
"As that city's lead prosecutor, Gascón authored a ballot measure to reduce some felonies to misdemeanors, including some thefts, which led San Francisco to have the nation's highest property crime rate per capita in the U.S., according to the Associated Press."
That he's bringing some of this same thinking to LA demonstrates that getting more of the things you don't prosecute is not a bug, it's a feature.
What about jail time? You're going to be seeing a lot less of that in the future.
Let's review his tweetstorm of changes.
Bail is unsafe.
Well, not for you.
It's also unjust, so he's going to end cash bail now and all bail by January 1 for minor offenses
He does exclude "violent" felonies, but that still leaves things like grand theft auto.
So you can steal a car now and not worry about spending a day in jail for it, at least not initially. It's like one of those vehicle sharing programs, where you just hop in an available car when you need one, only you don't pay for it!
Also, you're a part of it whether you like it or not.
I'm all for assuming people are innocent until proven guilty, and I know the justice system, still being run by human beings last I checked, is imperfect at best, but bail serves a real purpose.
While it may already be in the process of undergoing changes to fit the new narrative, as I write this is how the American Bar Association defines bail:
"Bail is the amount of money defendants must post to be released from custody until their trial. Bail is not a fine. It is not supposed to be used as punishment. The purpose of bail is simply to ensure that defendants will appear for trial and all pretrial hearings for which they must be present. Bail is returned to defendants when their trial is over, in some states minus a processing fee."
Bail is not a fine and is not used as punishment. All it does is provide some additional assurance that people will actually show up for their hearings. Bail routinely takes into account the wherewithal of the defendant to pay, hence million-dollar bails for people with means.
Gascón considers this unalloyed good news.
Accused felons, having had bail set according to the crime of which they had been accused by a judge through a system designed to take all the complexities of a particular case into account... out on the street!
On a totally unrelated note:
Moving right along.
There is very little more you need to know about Gascón other than the tweet sneer he uses here by placing "tough on crime" in scare quotes.
The "enhancements," enacted by California that are "outdated, incoherent, & applied unfairly?"
Enhancements to sentencing like those associated with gang membership.
In other words, one of Gascón's first actions, moments after being sworn in as the top law enforcement officer in Los Angeles, is to ensure gang members spend less time in jail and more time on your streets.
Let's break this one down so you can appreciate it in all its glorious wokefulness.
CA's 1994 3 Strikes Law has been a disaster.
In 1980 CA had a prison pop of ~23,000.
In 1990, that number grew to ~94,000.
And In 1999, 5 years after passage of 3 Strikes, CA‘s prison population ballooned to 160,000 souls.
I don't like to see prison populations grow, it frankly depresses me, and there are some well-publicized abuses of the system. (Again, humans involved.) But Gascón unequivocally states that a law that removes from society people who have proven themselves to be criminals (violent or serious felons only) time and again, to be a "disaster," and the only proof he offers is the fact that it worked.
By the way, the law is not as ironclad as you might think. There are various appeals you can make to judges.
"3 strikes ends in my office beginning today."
This is a law we're talking about, originally passed in 1994 under a proposition voted upon by the citizens. It was modified as recently as 2012 to address some of the issues with the original one. The California state legislature, made up of elected representatives, just last year modified it again.
That modification was not to relax the provisions but enhance them by adding human trafficking to the list of violent offenses that come under three strikes.
But according to Gascón, this law, passed by the voters, and repeatedly modified since by them, and their elected representatives, "ends in my office beginning today."
Someone should remind him it isn't his office, it belongs to the people of California. Might save some embarrassment later.
Gascón also plans to release people already in prison because of a law he doesn't like.
Quick question, if you have a "demonstrated record[s] of rehabilitation," what are you doing in jail again?
I oppose the death penalty for many of the same reasons as Gascón.
You know who does support the death penalty?
Doesn't matter. George Gascón disagrees.
Who would support such a person for District Attorney?
People who only have your best interests at heart.
(Guess who's NOT going to have to worry about any California state prosecutions over Cuties.)
The real crime here is the dismissal of the notion that crime is a genuine evil in society. He worries about people's lives being disrupted because they've committed a violent or serious offense once, got arrested, committed another one and got arrested, and yet another and got arrested.
What the heck, it's only murder, rape, and human trafficking. Maybe they were poor.
Just as bad with regards to people's everyday experiences, is the dismissal of misdemeanors which are still real crimes with real consequences as "criminalizing homelessness & poverty."
Poverty and homelessness do not cause crime, and to suggest otherwise is an insult to the vast majority of poor and homeless people who somehow manage to remain law-abiding.
But no, according to Gascón they are mindless animals who cannot control their impulses and so are to be pitied and coddled as you would a child.
What are some common misdemeanors? that Gascón casually dismisses?
Vandalism, perjury, indecent exposure, trespassing, basic assault, and resisting arrest.
I wonder if Gascón were a routine victim of these crimes, as are the people he purports to be trying to help, would he still be so blasé about it.
Seems like a fitting bookend to my New York piece.
"Your rules are really beginning to annoy me."