By Lauren Smith
LOS ANGELES – Newly-elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is wasting no time in reforming the justice system here, and has announced he has “adopted new charging and sentencing principles.”
These resentencing guidelines will apply to “all offices, units and attorneys” in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and are meant to fix “outdated policies” that will help “correct all inequities” in the justice system.
According to the guidelines, the LA District Attorney’s (LA DA’s) Office will “reevaluate and consider for resentencing people who have already served 15 years in prison.”
For currently pending cases, the resentencing guidelines call for a strike to sentence enhancements.
In addition, for those current serving a sentence higher that what they would receive according to the new guidelines, the DA’s office will request a new sentence that complies with the new guidelines.
Other aspects of the resentencing policy include extending eligibility for relief to those who plead to manslaughter instead of going to trial where the defendant may have been charged with felony murder, attempted murder, or murder.
The LA DA’s Office “will not attempt to prove the individual is ineligible for resentencing” if charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal and the defendant “was not the actual killer.”
Those convicted of attempted murder are also eligible for resentencing.
As part of the resentencing guidelines, the LA DA’s Office will set up a resentencing unit that will complete a “comprehensive review” of cases in which defendants received a sentence inconsistent with the new sentencing guidelines.
The unit will focus on the following categories of cases which amounts to about 20,000 cases:
- People who have already served 15 years or more
- People who are currently 60 years of age or older
- People who are at enhanced risk of COVID-19 infection
- People who have been recommended for resentencing by CDCR
- People who are criminalized survivors
- People who were 17 years of age or younger at the time of the offense and were prosecuted as an adult
In another move, youth and children who were under 17 when the crime was committed “will not be transferred to adult court and will remain committed to the youth system until they are mature enough to reenter society.”
The LA DA’s Office announced it will strongly oppose the transfers of minors to adult court and join any defense motion that attempts to transfer defendants to juvenile court for further proceedings.
As for parole hearings, the LA DA’s Office will not attend parole hearings and will write in support of granting parole for those who have served their minimum period of incarceration unless CDCR has determined that the defendant “represents a ‘high’ risk for recidivism.”
In that case, the LA DA will “take a neutral position on the grant of parole.
Lauren Smith is a fourth year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. She is from San Diego, California.
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