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Morning Brief: Gascón Juvenile Cases, Rams Parade, Bésame Ballpark

L.A. DA George Gascon. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 17.

DA Gascón’s catch-all policy on charging minors is changing. 

When George Gascón campaigned to become L.A.’s next district attorney, he led with his progressive foot forward.

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And he didn’t back off on his promises when he took office. One of his first acts involved altering the city’s criminal justice approach toward juveniles. He ordered his prosecutors to keep minors in the juvenile system, no matter the alleged crime. When it came to sentences handed down before his term, he leaned toward leniency, deferring jail time for juveniles prosecuted as adults.

And he caught heat. Plenty of it, including over the complicated case of Hannah Tubbs, a 26-year-old who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl when Tubbs was not yet 18. Gascón’s office was seeking a short sentence in juvenile hall or probation.

Now the DA is reversing course, carving out exceptions to the policy for severely violent crimes.

“Going forward, Gascón said decisions on juvenile cases will be made on ‘a case-by-case basis’ and ‘at the highest levels’ of his office,” writes my colleague Frank Stoltze. “The DA said he may also ask judges to uphold prison sentences previously handed down to juveniles in adult court.” 

The DA’s rationale behind the original instruction to his prosecutors was based on research showing that young people “are malleable and continue to mature until their early-to-mid-20s.” 

Gascón still maintains that minors do not belong in adult court, but said he “has no choice” but to change his approach, citing two reasons.

First, he says the county has failed to create a suitable alternative for violent juvenile offenders in the wake of the state moving to shut down the Division of Juvenile Justice, a lockup for people who committed serious crimes as minors.

Second, Gascón said he expects to be handling more cases of juveniles sentenced in adult court moving forward, thanks to an impending state Supreme Court ruling later this year.

Gascón’s policy reversal may not sit well with advocates of criminal justice reform, some of whom supported him in large part because he said he would end the practice of charging juveniles as adults,” continues Stoltze.

“I hope Gascón is applying this consideration to the rarest, exceptional cases,” L.A. attorney and youth justice advocate Patricia Soung told Stoltze.

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Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Bésame Mucho Takes The Ballpark

Two photos next to each other. On the left are the Bésame Mucho logo and event information, which has a pink background with hearts and kisses. The text says, "Sat December 2, 2022. Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles, CA." On the right is a photo of Juanes standing at a microphone holding a guitar while singing.
Left: Bésame Mucho Festival poster (Courtesy of Live Nation). Right: Juanes performs onstage the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images).

Major League Baseball remains locked out. Which means that Dodger Stadium is, for all intents and purposes, just “Stadium” at this very moment. Without all that pesky baseball on the venue’s events calendar, another major event has inspired us to bestow the venue with a new title: “Bésame Mucho Ballpark.”

No? Okay. Well, it was worth a shot.

But you should still check out the event itself! The Bésame Mucho festival will bring nearly 60 bands to Dodger Stadium in December. Audiophiles will have the chance to bask in the glory of legendary Latin giants like Los Tigres Del Norte, Caifanes, Sin Bandera, and Bronco, just to name a few.

Read my colleague Caitlin Hernandez’s breakdown of the incoming iconic event here.

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