LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Dozens of survivors of crime rallied outside the Hall of Justice in downtown L.A. Saturday seeking to recall newly-elected District Attorney George Gascón due to his policies on sentencing violent offenders.
The demonstrators formally started the process to recall Gascón, which would need about 590,000 people to qualify for the ballot.
Among other sweeping policy changes, Gascón has ended the use of sentencing enhancements for all but the most egregious crimes. That means no consideration of added time if someone is a gang member or repeat offender.
The office will also no longer seek the death penalty, outraging the family of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos.
“He loved his mother, but unfortunately she didn’t love him because she let her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, torture him and murder him,” said Maria Barron.
In a statement, Gascón said in part:
“The pain…of losing a loved one is immeasurable and I…respect that some victims want me to impose the maximum punishment in their case. Research shows excessive sentencing practices have exacerbated recidivism leading to more victims of crime. 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.”
The statement is linked to a survey from a group called The Alliance For Safety And Justice.
After interviewing 800 crime survivors, both of non-violent crime and of the most serious crimes of rape or murder, the survey found 61 percent of crime victims support shorter prison sentences and more spending on prevention and rehabilitation to long-term prison sentences.
“When a person can decapitate their own children and not face the full effects of the law, the full front of the law, I say we have a problem with that, I’m not ok with that,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.