Rachel Hart was walking with her 8-month-old baby in a stroller when a car struck them.
The driver, a juvenile out on probation, was sentenced to five months in a juvenile camp.
Hart’s name is among the more than 715,000 signatures recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Registrar in hopes of getting a measure to recall the district attorney on the ballot this fall. The LA County election officials are verifying the validity of the 715,833 signatures submitted.
Many of District Attorney George Gascón’s critics say his progressive approach to the justice system is emboldening people to commit crimes.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation out there. The reality is that we were prosecuting felony crimes at the same rate that we were before…What we're doing differently is that we're also looking at what is the right level of sentencing,” Gascón told “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen. “A lot of people don't understand is at the end of the day, the sentencing is really up to the judge.”
Gascón speculated one of the reasons levels of crime has been high in LA County is because of very low clearance rates, with only 12% of property crimes being solved, and about 50% of homicides countywide being solved.
“The pandemic created a completely new set of circumstances. I think that people that had mental health issues, people that had other problems, all those circumstances, were so isolated,” Gascón continued. “I think that that accentuated some of the problems…Economic disparities continue to plague [individuals as well].”
Gascón has received pushback on his progressive approach to criminal justice. When it comes to those without a criminal record to begin with, Gascón said little can be done prior to any unforeseen violent attack.
“I mean, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me awake, but I think that we handle over a hundred thousand cases every year,” he said. “We only have enough jail capacity for 12,000 people in the county. We cannot lock up everybody, so we look for evidence of violence.”
This is the second recall effort Gascón has faced in as many years. The campaign, which began in January, needs more than 566,000 verified signatures to qualify as a ballot in the November election.
The earliest a recall election could take place is at the same time as the Nov. 8 general election. A special recall election could take place between late December 2022 and mid-January 2023 if circumstances are bit met by November, according to the Registrar's Office.
“When you look at the crime picture around the country or around the state, we see the crime has gone up unfortunately in many places. I'm very concerned, obviously as DA here in LA County. So the fact that other counties in California have actually higher rates of violence, it doesn't do me any good,” Gascón said. “This is where I live, this is where I work. And we're very committed to doing the work, and we are doing the work.”