A dispute broke out in the open on Friday between District Attorney candidate George Gascon and the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, which represents nearly 1,000 L.A. County deputy D.As., over his plan to have 229 people sentenced to death in Los Angeles resentenced.
"The death penalty is broken beyond repair, wastes a massive amount of taxpayer resources, and creates an unnecessary risk that the state will put an innocent person to death," Gascon said in a statement Thursday.
"State sanctioned killings do not deter crime, but in light of the unequal application of the death penalty to communities of color it does inflict an extraordinary amount of harm to the moral authority of our justice system."
Gascon said he was joined by Councilmember Mike Bonin, family members of those condemned to death, exonerees, advocates, and members of the faith and legal communities to deliver a letter to District Attorney Jackie Lacey calling on her to end her pursuit of the death penalty in Los Angeles and to announce a plan to resentence the 229 people currently on death row from Los Angeles.
The deputy D.As. responded Friday with a scathing statement.
"In another exhibition of fluff and political grandstanding, George Gascon has promised that if elected District Attorney he would seek resentencing for the 229 inmates on death row who were tried and sentenced in Los Angeles County. Never mind that there is no legal authority for him to recall and resentence a person already on death row. For Mr. Gascon, who has never tried a criminal case, there is no need to understand the law when he can just ignore it.""
The prosecutors added that "Gascon's heart is clearly set on being the champion of the accused and the convicted. There are jobs out there where he could legitimately pursue his goals of trying to reduce criminal penalties and rehabilitate convicted criminals. The Public Defender's Office, Probation Department, and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation come to mind. But his absolute contempt for victims of crime make him unsuited to head an office whose mission is 'protecting our community through the fair and ethical pursuit of justice and the safeguarding of crime victims' rights."