Felons, Come One, Come All!

By Marc Debbaudt

Guest Editorial

What would Los Angeles look like if George Gascon or Rachel Rossi actually became the County’s next District Attorney? In a nutshell (and you would have to be a nut to vote for either of them), they will make L.A. the greatest haven for criminals in the nation. Yes, even more so than San Francisco which Gascon destroyed. They will hire fewer prosecutors and ensure there are no consequences for violating the law. Here are a few examples:

ONE: Gascon and Rossi don’t think criminal street gang members should be treated differently than criminals who don’t band together to commit crimes. That’s right: both of them have pledged to eliminate gang enhancements. They won’t charge them, period. Criminal gangs are defined as those who openly dedicate themselves to criminality, associate with like-minded lawbreakers to terrorize neighborhoods, and encourage each other to do things that benefit the gang, like killing people.

THE LESSON: If you’re a gang member and you want to commit crimes with your fellow gang members, come to Los Angeles. George Gascon welcomes you!

TWO: Gascon (and maybe Rossi) believe that people who drive drunk with a blood alcohol content of up to twice the legal limit should get diversion. It’s what he did in Gotham by the Bay. That’s right: no convictions for breaking a law that has saved, and continues to save, innumerable lives.

THE LESSON: If you’re someone who likes to drink and drive, come to Los Angeles and have “one for the road.” George Gascon welcomes you! (And if you’re a sober driver, maybe think about taking a hot air balloon to work; it will probably be safer, not to mention environmentally friendly.)

THREE: Gascon and Rossi want to “hire immigration attorneys for the DA’s office to ensure individuals aren’t charged with crimes that could get them deported.” Here’s what that means: If you are an American citizen (or if you immigrated to the United States legally), should Gascon or Rossi become our DA you would be charged with a more serious crime – for the exact same conduct — than people who come to this country illegally. Does that seem fair? Of course not.

THE LESSON: If you are an undocumented immigrant who commits a serious crime, Los Angeles is the place for you! Gascon and Rossi will cut you a sweetheart deal!

FOUR: Rachel Rossi says she would “end incarceration of the homeless.” Not resting on just that anodyne fluff, she says, “…I would stop prosecuting the homeless. Second, [I would] start prosecuting the people who are causing homelessness…I would establish a homeless fraud task force that would investigate big developers, corporate landlords, people who are raising the rent.” Let’s suspend our collective disbelief and take her comments seriously for a moment. She’s telling us that if you’re homeless and you commit a crime, no jail. Doesn’t matter what the crime is. No jail. And who are these “people who are causing homelessness” of which she speaks? That’s a big group, in my opinion. It must include those lawmakers who backed AB-109 Realignment without any serious or responsible plan for supporting felons released from custody. It should also include George Gascon, who backed the disingenuously entitled “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act” — Proposition 47 — which had nothing to do with safe neighborhoods or schools and which all-but-eliminated any incentive for addicts to stick with court-mandated treatment programs. Substance abuse appears to be a common characteristic of the homeless. Gascon, therefore, would be a major cause of our homeless population. Rossi, do us all a favor and charge Gascon first!

THE LESSON: If you’re homeless and break the law (any law), Rachel Rossi welcomes you! Come, all ye homeless, do crimes and line up for a no-custody offer.

FIVE: Instead of using money to hire prosecutors to prosecute crimes (which is money budgeted by the Board of Supervisors specifically to hire prosecutors to prosecute crimes), both Gascon and Rossi would spend taxpayer dollars to hire non-prosecutor lawyers – i.e., in-house civil rights and immigration attorneys – to NOT prosecute crimes. They’d do it even though taxpayers already pay for Public Defenders to see that crimes aren’t prosecuted. They are running to be THE chief prosecutor on a platform of we will not prosecute!

THE LESSON: If you’ve committed a crime in Los Angeles, don’t sweat it! If, and it’s a big IF, you go to court, you’ll have (when George and Rachel are done reversing the role of the Prosecutor and ending the adversarial system) two taxpayer-funded defense attorneys to represent you: one from the Public Defender’s Office and one from the District Attorney’s Office. Rossi will actually be listed on the ballot as “Former Public Defender.”

SIX: Both Gascon and Rossi would not seek the death penalty in any case, even though California voters have twice rejected efforts to repeal the death penalty in the last eight years. In other words, both have said they will completely ignore the will of the Legislature and the voters because, ahem, they know best. Sound familiar? (I’m not even going to discuss the fact that Gascon was a death penalty proponent for “heinous” crimes when he ran for District Attorney in San Francisco in 2011. Nope, I’m not.)

THE LESSON: If you’re looking to commit heinous, depraved, bone-chilling crimes, come to Los Angeles! Stay away from those backward inland counties. Did I mention we have better beaches too?

WHO GETS TO VOTE FOR DA? California law prohibits voting by people incarcerated in prison or on parole. (Cal. Const. Art. II, Sec. 4; Cal. Elec. Code Sec. 2101) This means that felons after released from custody and completion of parole can vote for the District Attorney of their choice. I wonder who all the felons roaming around our city will vote for? It won’t be Jackie Lacey.

THE BIG TAKEAWAY: Gang members who commit gang crimes? No additional punishment. Drunk driver? No conviction. American citizen, legal immigrant? Sorry, harsher punishment, for the same conduct, than someone who is not in this country legally. Homeless? No jail, ever, for anything. Taxpayer? You’re now paying for two defense attorneys in court, but no prosecutors. Believe in the Separation of Powers (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and the rule of law? How quaint! Before Gascon and Rossi, the DA was part of the Executive branch. But if elected, Gascon and Rossi will assume the powers of both the Executive and Legislative Branches, because they will decide what laws govern as well as pick and choose what laws they choose to charge. Gascon and Rossi know best and are quite anxious to create a better Los Angeles modeled after the poop and needle plagued city of San Francisco. You think there’s a theme here? Yes, let’s vote to dismantle criminal justice!

Felon? Habitual criminal? Welcome to Los Angeles! Sorry about the airport and traffic.

Marc Debbaudt is a Deputy District Attorney and President Emeritus of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA). This opinion is mine and no doubt also the opinion of sensible human beings. I am obliged to say that it is not necessarily the opinion of the District Attorney’s Office, and it certainly won’t be if felons and morons vote for Gascon and Rossi.

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