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This piece appeared today on Bari Weiss’ Substack site and it makes the case that LA County DA George Gascon isn’t just another progressive prosecutor looking to reform the criminal justice system, he’s something far more extreme. The story opens with the death of a man named Julian Andrade who was brutally murdered by a group of people who thought he’d stolen drugs from them.

Five men were charged in Julian Andrade’s death—beating and stabbing him, and then throwing him off a cliff, and then, when they heard him thrashing about, climbing down to pummel him some more. Two of them had known him in high school. They thought he’d stolen their weed.

He died slowly—from head trauma, blood loss and the cold. By the time his body was recovered, two days later, it had been ripped apart by bears or mountain cats.

Julian’s mother, Desiree Andrade, was expecting a long wait before the system dealt with her sons killers and that was before COVID hit. In December 2020, George Gascon was elected DA and immediately issued new rules for all of his prosecutors. Desiree got a call from Phil Stirling, the Assistant DA working on her son’s case:

The new D.A., Stirling explained, had issued nine directives that, among other things, eliminated “enhancements”—extra penalties for more serious crimes. Stirling had been hoping for life without parole for “the three heavies.” (The other two defendants were not thought to have played a central role in the murder.) But without the enhancement—Julian Andrade hadn’t simply been murdered but murdered during the commission of a kidnapping—the best they could hope for, he said, was 25 years in prison, which probably meant 20, since convicts often wind up serving 80 percent of their sentence.

It’s not just crime victims and family members who have a problem with Gascon’s brand of justice, it’s most of the prosecutors on his staff. Some of them quoted in the story say he ran as a progressive but that’s not actually what he is.

To a person, these prosecutors said that the problem was that Gascon had portrayed himself on the campaign trail as a progressive, and they thought that was a lie. They thought that he was captive to a radical agenda; that he wanted to blow the whole place up; that Black Lives Matter was now in charge of the criminal-justice system in Los Angeles; and that all of this was hurting the people the activists claimed to care about the most…

John Lewin, a deputy D.A. who has been in the Major Crimes Division for nearly two decades, said: “What happened is the D.A.’s Office was taken over by somebody who, in my opinion, has no interest in prosecuting criminals.” Another longtime deputy D.A. who voted for Gascon and has since revised his opinion told me: “Voters expect their district attorney to protect the public. Instead, they got a Trojan horse—a D.A. and his coterie of radicals and sycophants who are hellbent on blowing up the criminal-justice system in the name of ‘progress.’”…

All but the most serious juvenile crimes were to be treated with much greater leniency. “Let’s say a 17-year-old carjacks you and shoots you in the leg as I get away,” a prosecutor told me. “I have to file grand theft of a car—not carjacking, great bodily injury or the use of the gun.” The difference was a few months in juvenile detention versus several years in prison. “Deputy D.A.s are being forced to make up charges that don’t correlate to the facts of the crime,” he said.

That’s certainly what we saw recently with a hit and run case in which a 16-year-old who was already on probation stole a car and ran down a woman who was pushing her infant in a stroller and then tried to flee the scene. He wound up with a sentence of 5 months at a camp for juvenile offenders. Gascon’s office has defended that sentence as just. But others have pointed out that he could have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, a felony that would have resulted in a strike under California law and a much longer sentence.

There’s an ongoing effort to recall Gascon which has been buoyed by the recent successful recall of DA Chesa Boudin in San Francisco. That effort has until next month to gather the needed signatures to get the recall on the ballot. At this point, it looks like they’ll make it with some room to spare. If so, we’ll get to see if Gascon’s policies are as unpopular in LA as they are in his own office.