Advocates for the rights of crime victims have launched a recall effort against progressive Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, Los Angeles Times reports.
Gascón assumed office in Los Angeles in December of last year and immediately began sweeping reforms to the criminal justice system in the city. Such reforms include ending sentence enhancements, doing away with cash bail, prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from being tried as an adult, and refusing to work with immigration enforcement officials.
The prohibition on sentencing enhancements has already been dismissed by a judge, but Gascón says he will be appealing the ruling.
Supporters of the recall efforts held a vigil for victims of criminal activity in downtown Los Angeles last week where they obtained the necessary 20 signatures to declare their intent to force a recall election.
"The moment he was sworn in as district attorney, George Gascón instituted a series of directives to the prosecutors in his command that have nothing to do with a progressive approach to prosecution and have everything to do with a radical agenda that ignores victims, disregards the law and endangers the lives and livelihoods of all Angelenos," the recall supporters argue.
One accused criminal, Trenton Lovell, is currently facing charges stemming from a 2016 incident in which he was accused of executing LA County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen. After Gascón's election, Owen's wife was called to be informed that prosecutors were no longer seeking the death penalty for Lovell.
"As soon as I heard that, I said absolutely not. This will not happen on my watch," she said.
Gascón dismissed the woman's concerns, stating that "[the] pain and trauma of losing a loved one is immeasurable and I recognize and respect that some victims want me to impose the maximum punishment in their case. Our system of justice can’t continue to rely on policies that create more victims tomorrow simply because some victims want the maximum punishment imposed in their case today."
He further claimed that research shows harsh criminal sentencing causes higher rates of criminal recidivism. He did not mention which research he was citing.
In another incident, Carlos Morales-Ramirez was convicted of "second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death, and great bodily injury to a child causing death." Authorities refused to work with ICE despite the fact that Morales-Ramirez had entered the country illegally, and the convicted child-killer was released back onto the streets of Los Angeles.
In order to force a recall election, ten percent of LA county voters must sign the recall petition, which is about 580,000 people. A Facebook group dedicated to the recall has already garnered a membership of 40,000, however.
The group has 160 days to gather the necessary signatures to remove Gascón, requiring over 3,600 signatures per day. However, the recall effort would likely not make it to the ballot until 2022 even if it is successful according to the petitioners.