By J.R. – guest article
This year we’ll be voting for our county District Attorney. It will most likely come down to Jackie Lacey and George Gascón.
I wanted to talk about my family’s experience with Jackie Lacey.
In 2013, our daughter (10 years old at the time) was kidnapped. It was a horrific experience for her. I won’t go into details other than to say that the monster who kidnapped her received LWOP (life without parole) and over 200 years to life for what my daughter endured that day.
Early on in the process of going to trial our monster’s defense attorney offered a 50-year plea bargain deal. Jackie Lacey rejected this deal forcing it to go to trial. This originally upset my wife and me. We were going to refuse to allow our daughter to testify. We didn’t want to subject her to what we believed would be another traumatic experience.
My wife, my daughter’s therapist and I sat with our daughter and read the letter we were going to submit to the prosecutor’s office declaring our refusal to let her testify. My daughter was upset. She demanded to testify. She wanted to make sure that this monster “never had the hope of getting out again where he could hurt someone else” – her words. “He’ll kill them if he does it again”. Those words still ring in my ears. Those are powerful words coming out of a 10 year old. But a 10 year old she was and we are her parents.
We opted to take a “time out” for a few weeks and make sure our daughter understood that our monster would be in his 70s if he ever got out. If he lived that long he would be “old and broken”, I told her. She spent quite a bit of time with her therapist discussing this as well. What finally convinced us was the argument my ten-year-old daughter made on why she needed to testify
“Ashod Kerri (‘Kerri’ is Armenian for Uncle – Ashod is her great uncle – he was 75 at the time) is as old as [our monster] will be when he gets out of jail with that deal. Every morning Ashod Kerri goes in the back yard, jumps up and grabs a tree branch and does pull ups. He’s not a broken old man. If [our monster] ever gets out he’ll kill someone. I have to make sure he doesn’t”.
How do you argue against that? That’s from a ten-year-old. We were floored.
>Here’s a report from sentencing.
It took one year before I wrote to Jackie Lacey. I told her this story – I told her that she was absolutely right in her decision — and also expressed admiration for our prosecutor. Why did I wait one year? From kidnapping to sentencing were over two and a half years. Those were hard years for my family. It took a while before we could put words to paper about a very painful time. Attached is her response. Please take the time to read it.
I’m writing this now because George Gascón is going to try and replace Jackie Lacey – beat her in the next election for District Attorney. Gascón is the author of Prop 47, which has done a lot of damage to victims seeking justice as well as creating more victims. His record in San Francisco speaks for itself on crime enforcement as do the consequences of Prop 47.
It’s Gascón’s philosophy that’s warping of our justice system to be only about rehabilitation. It is absolutely not about rehabilitation. It is not about retribution. It is not about deterrence. And it is not about public safety. Our justice system is all these things at the same time – and it works best when those are in balance.
Victims have a right to justice and there must be a price to pay when someone chooses to victimize another. The justice system must also act as a deterrent for those who would consider victimizing others. It must also consider public safety and the likelihood of a serial criminal victimizing others again once released. And it must also work diligently to rehabilitate the convicted so they can enter society once again and become members of our community.
These four “legs” (rehabilitation, retribution, deterrence and safety) act as the legs of a table on which the machine of our justice system sits. What we have done is hack off large portions of retribution, safety and deterrence and lengthened rehabilitation to absurdity such that the “Justice Machine” rocks back and forth and criminals fall out back into society well before they are ready creating more victims and robbing their prior victims of justice. This is the legacy of the consequences of no real consequences. We need to move the machine back to balance where “justice” is served not just to the convicted but to victims and to society.
If you don’t want to see George Gascón as our District Attorney I urge you to share our story and vote for Jackie Lacey in the upcoming election. She understands the dangers of reducing consequences. My daughter understood this at 10 years old. Jackie Lacey “gets it”. George Gascón does not.