2 years ‘may not be enough’ for child sex offender
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who implemented a policy that resulted in a transgender woman being sentenced to two years in juvenile detention for sexually assaulting a young girl 10 years old in a restaurant bathroom. conceded that the phrase “may not” be adequate.
The county’s top prosecutor, who on Friday waived two of his most criticized guidelines, including one that eliminated the ability to try minors as adults for serious crimes, said in a statement Sunday that he became aware after Hannah Tubbs’ condemnation of “the extremely disturbing statements she made about her case, the resolution of it, and the young girl she harmed.”
“While for most people several years in prison is enough, that may not be the case for Ms. Tubbs,” Gascón said of the 26-year-old defendant who was 17 at the time of the arrest. 2014 attack in Palmdale. Tubbs’ case moved to juvenile court following a directive the district attorney issued the day he was sworn in.
He noted that the defendant was arrested years after the crime “rather than the usual case, where a child is arrested shortly after his crime” and that Tubbs had “several charges in other counties after the offense juvenile but has never received services, which her past behavior and that which followed her arrest clearly demonstrates that she needs them.”
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“Had we known of her contempt for the harm she has caused, we would have handled this case differently. The complex issues and facts of her particular case were unusual and I should have handled them that way. This change in policy will leave us the space to do so in the future,” the district attorney said in his statement.
Gascón promised in his December 2020 directive that the district attorney’s office would “immediately end the practice of referring youths to the adult justice system.” But he abruptly changed his stance on the matter with a series of memos Friday to office staff, including one in which he noted that “in exceptional circumstances, criminal jurisdiction may be appropriate for young offenders” and that minors can be selectively transferred to adult court. system in “the most egregious cases that warrant commitment to state prison”.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger called the outcome of Tubbs’ case “unsatisfactory,” saying in a Jan. 27 statement that the judge’s hands were “tied … due to the prosecutor’s office not filing a complaint.” motion to transfer Tubbs to an adult criminal court, where she rightfully belongs.”
In the statement released Sunday night, Gascón said his office has “now implemented policies to create a different path for outlier cases while simultaneously creating protections to prevent those exceptions from becoming the rule.”
The district attorney said he remained committed to the “core values of our policies” but had seen “a small number of cases that presented real challenges.”
He said his office was making “minor adjustments” to its juvenile policies, as well as life sentences without parole for adults in some murder cases, to “allow for exceptions in the most extraordinary cases.”
Gascón wrote in the statement on Sunday that a prosecutor must submit a request in writing when he wishes to “deviate from our fundamental principles” and that the request will be referred to a committee “composed of my most trusted advisers, who must assess the case and approve any request to pursue an exception.” He wrote that this will ensure “that only in the rarest cases, where our system has failed, will we deviate from our principles.”
On the day he was sworn in, Gascón issued a directive requiring that allegations of special circumstances resulting in a life sentence without parole not be filed and be removed from pending cases for which they had already been filed.
He met quick resistance, with the association representing more than 800 Los Angeles County assistant prosecutors filing a lawsuit in December 2020 challenging some of Gascón’s directives, including the requirement that prosecutors seek dismissal. allegations of special circumstances in murder cases that were pending. The association argued the moves were “unlawful” and a number of Los Angeles County judges declined to dismiss the allegations in cases that were filed before Gascón took office.
A judge ruled mostly in favor of the Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorneys Association last February, but then stayed the case while Gascón appeals. A trial date is to be set for the case in April.
In one of the memos released Friday evening, Gascón noted that there “may be rare occasions” in which allegations of special circumstances may be “necessary” that could result in a life sentence without parole in murder cases.
The policy changes come as the county’s top prosecutor has come under fire from the families of some crime victims, as well as Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Charlie Beck, and some prosecutors from his own office.
Addressing the policy changes, the district attorney said in his statement Sunday, “Like any responsible office, we learn as we go, take feedback from the community, and make necessary adjustments based on our experiences and the complex nature of this work. This is the responsible way to govern. I have always been open to learning and growing in this work.
Gascón faces a new recall effort that was announced in December. Recall supporters are working to collect 566,857 signatures from registered voters in Los Angeles County to submit to the county registrar’s office by July 6. A similar effort in 2021 failed to garner enough signatures to qualify.
Gascón repeatedly defended his politics, saying his positions were well known during his campaign and that his election signified public support for his program.