Jonathan Hatami | Gascón vs. What a DA Should Be

SCV Voices: Jonathan Hatami
SCV Voices: Jonathan Hatami

The primary role and duty of our elected district attorney is to protect the entire community within Los Angeles County. All children deserve a childhood free of crime and abuse. 

And, all of us deserve to live in a safe home and neighborhood. This means, the DA must represent the entire public, not a specific political ideology, party, or agenda. The elected DA must be a DA for all Angelenos. The DA must protect us, fight for justice for all of us, and fairly represent us, the people.  

The DA should always improve public safety. This is done by prosecuting people who break the law, enforcing punishment and personal accountability, working with law enforcement as partners, actually following and enforcing the laws on the books, and always doing the right thing. The DA must be fair and equal for all, provide a path to reform and second chances for some, and always fight for justice for victims of crime. The DA’s No. 1 job is to make Los Angeles County a better place to live, work and raise a family.  

George Gascón has been in office for nine months, and every month violent crime has increased. In Los Angeles County, homicides are up 62.5% according to the Sheriff’s Department. Aggravated assaults, including sexual assaults, are up 11%. Shootings are up over 40%. In the city of Los Angeles, homicides are up 44%, shots fired are up 48%, and people shot are up 44%. That is data and science.  

George Gascón bragged that when he came into office he removed capital punishment on 17 horrendous murderers, including police killers and child murderers. He also refused to conduct 17 juvenile transfer hearings on now adult murderers, and he withdrew 77 juvenile transfer motions on current 16- and 17-year-old murderers. In one of those cases, a 17-year-old murdered a 16-year-old girl and her 26-year-old sister and burned their bodies. In another, a 17-year-old murdered two people in a gang crime. In a third, a man in 2012 forcefully broke into a home, robbed and beat the residents of the home, and shot one of them, causing great bodily injury. This specific 17-year-old, who is now 27, was released last week due to George Gascón’s policies. This clearly is not improving public safety for our communities. George Gascón calls these murderers “kids.” 

George Gascón also said when he won election last year, “We have a lot of ongoing cases involving kids as young as 14 years of age that are being prosecuted as adults.” The problem with this statement, it is false. Only 16- and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted as adults when they murder someone under California law. And, releasing violent murderers as early as 25 years old does not provide a safe home and neighborhood for anyone in Los Angeles.      

George Gascón bragged that he dropped more than 100 legally available enhancements when he became the Los Angeles County DA. He also said he would make more than 20,000 prison inmates eligible for early release. He further boasted that he removed 8,000 years off of sentences of convicted criminals. He also said on his website that, “I will make our neighborhoods safer,” because, “I have reduced crime in every leadership position I’ve held.” Releasing criminals from prison early and not charging provable crimes and enhancements does not make our communities safer. It does the opposite. And, again, the problem with his statement, according to FBI data in 2017, the murder rate, violent crime rate and property crime rate all increased in San Francisco when George Gascón was DA. Have you seen what is happening in San Francisco today? Do you know that George Gascón was the co-author of Proposition 47, which decriminalized many drug and theft crimes? It was actually titled the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” There is nothing safe about Prop. 47.  

Two weeks ago, George Gascón refused to allow a prosecutor to attend the parole hearing of the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. The assassin, without even acknowledging that he committed the murder, was granted parole by the parole board. There was no one at the hearing from the LADA’s office to fight for the family, the children, and the widow of Robert F. Kennedy. They were abandoned.  

In April 2021, a man threatened an LASD deputy with a knife. Four days later, he was released, only charged with a misdemeanor. About a week ago, that same man terrorized a family with children, and slashed the dad with a knife. This is the reality of George Gascón’s policies and directives. There is nothing safe about a father being attacked and his family being terrorized. That type of trauma lasts a lifetime.    

Twenty-nine Los Angeles County cities have voted no confidence in George Gascón. When he was the San Francisco DA, 61 experienced prosecutors out of 140 left the office. In the past nine months, more than 60 Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys have left the office. So far, Gascón has only hired public defenders to be DDA’s. Losing experienced and dedicated DDA’s only hurts our community.   

If the DA calls murderers “victims,” abandons real crime victims, and can’t even keep Los Angeles safe, he is not doing the job he was elected to do. Gascón could not even bother sending a prosecutor to the parole hearing of the murderer of Robert F Kennedy. That is sad for us as a community and embarrassing for us as a country. The role of the DA should never be abandoned because of a political belief or agenda. Los Angeles and all Angelenos, we deserve better from our DA. 

Jonathan Hatami, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, is a deputy district attorney for L.A. County.

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