Fox News reports that George Gascon, the district attorney of Los Angeles, California, has decided to disband the Parole Unit.
Also known as the “Lifer Unit,” this particular unit has been part of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. The unit, composed of victim advocates and prosecutors, would inform victims as well as their families of the parole hearings of their assailants.
Gascon has now decided that this unit isn’t needed.
Under his direction, it will be fully disbanded by the end of this year.
Gascon has provided Fox with several reasons why he has decided to disband the Parole Unit.
One of the reasons is that notifying the victims of their assailant’s parole hearings, according to Gascon, could be “triggering” for them.
Gascon’s office told Fox, “while a victim has a right to be notified, they also have a right NOT to be contacted. Lawyers in the parole unit have been using Victim Service Representatives paralegals and Bureau of Investigation resources to contact victims and their next of kin who have not requested to be notified of parole hearings.”
Another reason that Gascon is shutting down the unit is that, according to him, it takes up too many resources, given that the district attorney’s office is already understaffed. And, yet another reason for disbanding the unit is that the role being played by the unit, according to Gascon, is really the responsibility of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Gascon made it a point to note that victims will still be able to get support from Victim Service Representatives.
Gascon, here, is facing a lot of criticism for his decision to disband the Parole Unit.
Among his critics is Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Lewin. Lewin argues:
What Gascon wants to do is he wants to make it so that not only the next of kin are unaware of these parole hearings, but he wants to make sure that prosecutors and district attorney’s offices don’t hear about them either. When that happens, that means that (Gascon) and his public defender cronies can, in essence, do what they’re doing in the dark, and no one will ever know.
Lewin, here, is referring to the fact that Gascon has taken a soft-on-crime approach to his job. He is arguing that disbanding the unit is just the latest manifestation of that approach. It is for this approach that Gascon’s critics continue to push for his recall.