Gascón brings much awaited change, gives hope

Los Angeles District Attorney Jorge Gascón took aim at decades of systemic racism in the county’s criminal justice system with a blistering directive to all deputy district attorneys.

Issued in December 2020, the directive outlined a host of sentencing reforms designed to roll back the inhumane guidelines and prosecutorial practices which resulted in California having one of the nation’s highest rates of incarceration and Los Angeles having the largest jail system in the country. 

 In acknowledging that current charging and sentencing procedures are designed to create “virtual life sentences” for individuals charged with crimes which do not warrant them, DA Gascón has pulled back the curtain on decades of demographically targeted prosecution amounting to little more than a system of justice by zip code or a defendant’s resources.  

As part of the directive, many incarcerated people sentenced in Los Angeles County who have served 15 years or more are eligible for re-sentencing according to current guidelines that do away with the extreme enhancements of the past, which stretched reasonable terms for serious crimes into “virtual life.”

Gascón’s directive is a watershed moment, as it is the first time a Los Angeles District Attorney explicitly acknowledges the existence of systemic racism in the County’s prosecution and sentencing procedures, and the discriminatory and excessive prosecution of “Black people, people of color, young people, people who suffer from mental illness, and people who are poor.”

We, at Ollin, applaud Gascón’s approach to justice because it provides hope and opens the door for individuals and communities harmed by these draconian sentences and massive incarceration to heal. Understanding that everyone is capable of redemption and transformation, we have represented many clients convicted as youth and sentenced to life in prison. 

If you or a loved one are in this position to benefit from Gascón’s new directive, Ollin is here to help. Feel free to contact us with any questions.