In June, the California Appeals Court ruled that Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon must enforce the state's "three-strikes" law, which increases the punishments for repeat offenders.
On Thursday, Gascon announced that he was appealing the decision to the California Supreme Court.
"This decision sets a dangerous precedent," Gascon said of the Appeals Court's ruling. "The Court is effectively taking the charging decision out of the prosecutor’s hands–the core function of a prosecutor’s office."
He went on to call the penalties imposed by the three-strikes law "draconian," pointing out that under the guidelines, criminals with one past felony conviction receive sentences twice as long, while those with two or more past convictions are subject to twenty-five years to life in prison if they re-offend.
Gascon claimed that such policies "increase recidivism rates, have little-to-no deterrent effect and keep people in prison long after they pose any safety risk to their community." He also suggested the law "disproportionately affect minorities."
He argued that the Constitution gives DAs "the power to determine what charges to bring, and which sentencing enhancements to allege," adding that, "Courts cannot take that power away."
As FOX News reports, however, critics have shown that in many cases, there is merit to long prison time given the risk of re-offending.
Gascon attempted to make the three-strikes law optional in December 2020, making the filing of "strike priors" forbidden. According to LA deputy district attorney Jon Hatami, Gascon also ordered all prosecutors to remove strike priors on any existing cases," including "child murderers, serial rapists, child molesters, sex traffickers, and police killers who were career criminals."
Under Gascon, criminals have been given more lenient sentences, angering many in the community.
In June, for example, he handed down a sentence of five months probation to a teen who rammed his car into a mother and her baby.
Earlier this month, a campaign seeking to recall Gascon reached over 700,000 signatures, enough to proceed with an election.
It remains to be seen whether Gascon will go the way of progressive San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, who was recently ousted via recall.
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