We’ve been alarmed, in principle, about the approach L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón is taking to criminal justice. We’ve decried his policies as a criminal-friendly threat to public safety. And now, the numbers are bearing it out.
Multiple criminals are being arrested by law enforcement, only to be released without bail — or not charged at all — to commit more crimes. Violent crime is up in L. A. County — the Sheriff’s Department is reporting a whopping 127% increase in criminal homicides through the first four months of this year versus last year.
And, here in the Santa Clarita Valley, the number of criminal cases that will never be prosecuted is staggering. Through the first four months of the year, the DA’s office has rejected a whopping 537 cases that the Sheriff’s Department submitted for prosecution. That’s already 156% as many as were rejected in the entire year of 2020.
If that trend holds, the number of rejections by the end of the year could be up by 369%.
It’s not necessarily unusual for a DA’s office to reject a case, most commonly due to insufficient evidence or a procedural issue. But this year, 60% of those rejections are attributable simply to Gascón’s policies, particularly those that prohibit prosecution of several categories of crimes.
Among them: trespassing, disturbing the peace, unlicensed driving, criminal threats, drug possession, drunk in public, loitering and prostitution. Couple this with his other directives ignoring the “three strikes” law and banning the pursuit of sentencing enhancements — along with banning prosecutors from attending parole hearings — and it’s not difficult to see whose side Gascón is on.
Gascón is supposed to be the county’s top prosecutor. Instead, he’s the county’s top blind eye. He’s turned a blind eye to 537 criminal cases in the SCV through four months this year — 321 of them, simply because he doesn’t want to prosecute them.
The district attorney is so preoccupied with social engineering — one of his stated goals is to reduce the prison population — that he’s abdicating his actual job.
The proof is in those numbers.
You might think such futility would be discouraging to law enforcement. It is. We’ve heard privately from multiple law enforcement officers expressing frustration that it seems pointless to arrest suspects who will only be immediately released with no charges filed. At some point, you would ask yourself, why bother?
There’s evidence that it’s resulting in a change on the streets: We have noticed a perceptible drop in the number of arrests on the daily arrest logs from the SCV Sheriff’s Station. On one recent day, there were just two arrests — a low number that was unheard of before Gascón took office.
There’s already a groundswell of objections to Gascón’s policies — at least 17 cities, led by the city of Santa Clarita, have issued votes of no confidence in the district attorney. And, a recall effort is under way, with petitions being gathered to force a recall election.
We first issued the call for a recall election in December, shortly after Gascón took office and issued his directives. We stand behind our original position, and we hope the recall succeeds in ousting Gascón from the DA’s office.
The safety of our community — and indeed the entire county — depends on it.