Injustice in the Juvenile “Justice” System

On his first day in office, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon implemented a blanket “Youth Justice Policy” that prohibits criminal prosecution of 16 or 17-year-olds. The policy ignores individualized facts, like the sophistication or heinousness of the crime. It disregards psychological analysis or the future dangerousness of the individual. It prevents independent judicial review to determine whether the appropriate jurisdiction is criminal or juvenile court. It is a policy that treats a multiple murderer unable to conform to societal norms the same as a teenager who shoplifts a candy bar.

It is a policy that has devastated the family members of slain sisters, Uniek and Sierra. The man accused of killing their daughters in November of 2018, was one month shy of his 18th birthday. Under California law he is eligible for prosecution in criminal court because of the viciousness of his crimes. However, because the murders occurred in Los Angeles, they are subject to Gascon’s one-size-fits-all policy. Hoping for an exception, Uniek and Sierra’ family met with Gascon. Gascon expressed his personal condolences, but refused to explain or answer questions about his decision. Eventually the family was told that the DA’s office would not make an exception to the blanket policy. The young man who illegally obtained a firearm, who shot their precious daughters, who started a fire in a residential apartment building to cover up the murders, who stole the victims’ cell phones to make sure he would not be connected to the crime, and who returned to the scene and coolly lied to police when interviewed, will be treated as a juvenile not as an adult. This decision ensures that he will be released by age 25.

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