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Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon. (Photo: da.lacounty.gov)

Los Angeles DA George Gascon Continues Policy Rollbacks on Trying Juveniles as Adults

‘Gascon has only rolled back because of public outcry and a growing movement to recall him’

By Evan Symon, February 21, 2022 4:05 pm

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon continued to roll back his policy on trying juveniles as adults on Sunday by further adding in more cases that warrant increased punishment.

The rollback of his blanket ban to try juveniles as adults has been attributed to public furor over recent rulings such as the Tubbs case. In 2014, then-17-year-old Hannah Tubbs sexually assaulted a 10-year-old at a Denny’s restaurant in Palmdale. Linked to the assault in 2019 by DNA, Tubbs was finally tried and sentenced last month. However, due to Gascon’s policy of refusing to try juveniles as adults, Tubbs, now 26, was only given a two year sentence and was set to serve her sentence at an LA County Youth facility rather than a prison for adults.

However, the Tubbs decision brought tremendous public backlash. The public furor over the Tubbs decision, as well existing public discontent over Gascon’s policies, and an upcoming state Supreme Court decision that may allow all juveniles who were tried as adults to ask for a transfer hearing, put the LA DA in a difficult place, especially with more support going towards the campaign to get him recalled as a direct result.

Rather than dig his heels in, which he has done many times since becoming DA in late 2020, Gascon instead walked back on his blanket ban last week. Rather than not have any juveniles at all tried as an adult, prosecutors now will have the option to request for permission to deny a motion by the defendant to move a juvenile from adult court to juvenile court. All instances where an adult being tried who committed a crime as a juvenile will also be given a special notification.

Juvenile sentencing policy rollback

However, on Sunday, Gascon further pulled back, increasing the scope and saying that extraordinary cases like Tubbs will now have a different pathway for prosecution.

“While for most people several years of jail time is adequate, it may not be for Ms. Tubbs,” said Gascon in a statement on Sunday. “If we knew about her disregard for the harm she caused we would have handled this case differently. The complex issues and facts of her particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way. This change in policy will allow us the space to do that moving forward.”

“The DA’s office implemented policies to create a different pathway for outlier cases while simultaneously creating protections to prevent these exceptions from becoming the rule. This process ensures that only in the rarest of cases, where our system has failed, will we diverge from our principles.”

While the change in policy was well received by most, many more pushed for further changes to increase jailings and higher sentences to counter the growing crime rates in Los Angeles and LA County and punish those who committed crimes.

“A lot of people feel that this is no time to experiment with criminal sentencing and jailing others,” explained Southern Californian political advisor Ellen Gardner to the Globe on Monday. “Gascon has only rolled back because of public outcry and a growing movement to recall him. We’ve seen multiple successful recalls in California so far this year in California, and it’s only February. And that’s not to mention the upcoming June recall election of the San Francisco DA. Gascon knows he has a target on his back for enacting similar policies, and now he’s trying to find ways to go back where it seems like he’s still the good guy for doing so. For the juvenile courts, it’s using Tubbs and a promise to hear the public out then changing it.”

“That, combined with what he said and expanded on yesterday is him admitting being wrong about a small part of his policy, but again, making it look as much as possible as him being the good guy. As the signatures continue to go up, we may see more of this.”

Gascon will likely make more announcements on the Tubbs case in the coming weeks.

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