Gascon Punishes Deputies for Following His Policy
Two deputies district attorneys (DDAs) in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office have been punished for following a parole policy announced last December by newly elected District Attorney George Gascon. The reason; following his policy to allow the release of a serial rapist would have made Gascon look bad. Shortly after his election last fall, Gascon issued a group of “Special Directives” that prosecutors in his office were required to follow. Directive 20-14 states; “This Office’s default policy is that we will not attend parole hearings and will support in writing the grant of parole for a person who has already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration…However, if the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) has determined in their Comprehensive Risk Assessment that a person represents a “high” risk of recidivism, the DDA may, in their letter, take a neutral position on the grant of parole.” There are no exceptions for violent criminals, including murderers and rapists, in the written policy.
Earlier this Summer, when serial rapist Scott Breckenridge was scheduled for a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court to determine his suitability for early release under current California law, the deputy assigned to the case filed a brief indicating that the District Attorney’s Office supported his release in compliance with Gascon’s policy. Breckenridge was convicted in 1991 of nine counts of sexual assaults on several victims and had served 30 years of a 73-year sentence. Days after submitting the brief in the Breckenridge case both the deputy and his supervisor were called on the carpet because, fearing that the hearing would make the news, it would embarrass his office. On September 7 the deputy filed a new brief with the court indicating that he had “misinterpreted” Gascon’s policy and that the District Attorney’s Office opposed Breckenridge’s release. As reported by Christiane Cordrto of ABC News, on September 16, the judge denied his release.
Referring back to Special Directive 20-14, there was no provision for the District Attorney’s Office to oppose the early release of any criminal. The strongest position the office was allowed to take, even for a high risk violent criminal, is to be neutral. No exceptions.
As punishment for not inventing an exception to Gascon’s clearly written policy, both the deputy and his supervisor were reassigned.