SM Council Delays Discussion on Gascon
August 5, 2021
by Observer Staff
July 29, 2021 The City Council did not end up discussing a resolution regarding Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon that had been proposed by Councilmember Phil Brock. The resolution did not go so far as to express no confidence in the DA, as has been done by 24 other area cities. Instead, the resolution asks Gascon to follow state law regarding bail and sentencing of criminal defendants.
Brock's resolution digs into the specific directives Gascon has issued that both violate state law and which damage public safety. According to the resolution, the laws Gascon refuses to enforce "enhance public safety and protect the general public and victims' rights."
With a nod to the idea that it may be appropriate to sentence alternatively for "many offenses," the resolution takes issue with three main actions by Gascon. He forbade his staff for asking for cash bail. He directed to dismiss without conditions a long list of misdemeanor crimes. He eliminated nearly all sentencing enhancements.
The main thrust of the resolution states, "The City Council of the City of Santa Monica requests that the Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney uphold the laws of the State of California, whether they were established by the state legislature or the voters of this state, and requests no Special Directives be issued by the Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney which contradict these laws."
Cash bail was reinstituted throughout the state by a ballot initiative measure passed last November. This followed months of zero-cash bail during the pandemic during which numerous criminal defendants re-offended while out on their own recognizance. In addition, the list of crimes qualifying for zero bail under Gascon's directive include felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, felony domestic violence resulting in a traumatic condition, molestation of a child aged 15 and older, human trafficking of a minor for commercial sex acts, and more.
The misdemeanors Gascon has directed his staff to dismiss altogether with no prosecution include trespassing, disturbing the peace, criminal threats, drinking in public, drug and paraphernalia possession, under the influence of controlled substance in public, public intoxication, resisting arrest, driving without a valid license or with a suspended license, minor in possession of alcohol, loitering, and loitering to commit prostitution.
Gascon has directed his staff not to pursue any sentencing enhancements except for elder and child abuse, hate crimes, and human sex trafficking. This means no sentencing enhancements will be added to cases involving gangs or those involving the use of a gun to commit a crime.
Gascon's claim is that "Additional punishment provided by sentencing enhancements or special allegations provide no deterrent effect or public safety benefit of incapacitation--in fact, the opposite may be true, wasting critical financial state and local resources." However, his evidence for this claim is based in push polls, research done by advocacy groups, and a distortion of facts presented by true research.
It is a fact that does not have to be proven that when people are allowed to break into your home, come at you with a knife, or smoke meth at the entrance to a school - with no consequences for any of these actions - then the residents cannot feel safe in their persons or property.