L.A.’s Reformist D.A. Promised To Eliminate Hate Crime Enhancements—Until Progressive Activists Gave Him a Call
Newly minted Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón isn’t making many friends in L.A. The reformist prosecutor came into office promising to stop prosecuting low-level misdemeanors, to end cash bail, to cease using the death penalty, and to eliminate sentencing enhancements.
To no one’s surprise, that to-do list drew conservatives’ ire. But the last item on the list also angered some progressives, because it included a pledge to stop upping punishments for alleged hate crimes.
That objection has carried the day. After chatting with some LGBT activists on December 17, the new D.A. has decided to “allow enhanced sentences in cases involving the most vulnerable victims and in specified extraordinary circumstances.” Those circumstances “shall be narrowly construed,” he added. In other words, sentencing enhancements are generally off the table, except when it comes to crimes that the government has deemed particularly hateful.
The irony there is rich. It is progressives who have made criminal justice one of their primary goals, seeking to curtail the carceral state. The U.S. locks people up at higher rates than any other nation in the world, they say, and the system discriminates against people of color. On both points, they are correct.
But when it comes to those who are accused of acting with a particular sort of hate, progressi
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