Los Angeles DA Gascón To Dissolve Unit That Informs Victims When Attacker Has Parole Hearing, Deputy District Attorney Debunks Claims | Eastern North Carolina Now | Amid facing a recall for his “pro-criminal agenda,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s office told prosecutors on Tuesday his administration plans to dissolve a unit that contacts victims and their family members when authorities either schedule a parole hearing for the attacker

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    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Brandon Drey.

    Amid facing a recall for his "pro-criminal agenda," Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's office told prosecutors on Tuesday his administration plans to dissolve a unit that contacts victims and their family members when authorities either schedule a parole hearing for the attacker, releases their attacker, or their attacker has died.

    Gascón's office confirmed to Fox News the Parole Division Bureau of Prosecution Support Operations, otherwise known as the "Lifer Unit," will disband by the end of the year, adding it's the responsibility of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to inform victims of such events.

    "While a victim has a right to be notified, they also have a right NOT to be contacted," Gascón's office told Fox News. "Contacting victims and their next of kin can be very triggering, especially if they do not welcome the intrusion."

    Yet Julianne Walker, a deputy district attorney in the unit, debunked the claim from Gascón's office, saying while the CDCR provides every victim and their family member with a form at or before sentencing, the process does not routinely occur.

    "Even when a family has registered 15, 20, 25 years ago, the information is often out of date, and CDCR makes no effort to find the current contact info," Walker told Fox News. "The onus is put entirely on the traumatized victim and their families."

    Walker added that changes in laws allowed for early parole dates for perpetrators without the victims, their families, or public knowledge.

    Gascón's office said lawyers in the parole unit had used Victim Service Representatives, paralegals, and investigator resources to contact victims or family members who have asked for privacy.

    But Walker argues such representatives do not understand parole hearing legalities as they're technically not lawyers and only have skills to provide emotional support and services.

    "Gascón continually puts forth 'services' as if he is protecting their rights," she said. "He's not."

    "He is abandoning their constitutional rights and thinks a band-aid of some type of service like counseling will make up for his refusal to protect their rights," she added.

    Expert consultants have convinced the Los Angeles D.A.'s office to believe the trauma-informed approach falls short for victims.

    However, Deputy District Attorney Walker said Gascón's administration does not have a trauma-informed approach and called the terminology offensive and hurtful.

    "Further, how is it possibly trauma-informed to deny victims and their families current information and the legal expertise of a DDA at the hearing and in preparation of their statements," she said.

    Gascón's office said former Los Angles District Attorney Jackie Lacey's administration initially disbanded the Lifer Unit claiming it went from 15 lawyers down to three lawyers before Gascón took office. But Walker again argued that contract employees and others were either let go or not rehired due to county-wide budget shortfalls from COVID-19.

    She said district attorneys were still sent to parole hearings but as volunteers. But when during Gascón's first week, victims she had prepped had "the rug pulled out from under them" when policies that allowed district attorneys to attend hearings were dropped.

    "It was horrible to tell these families the news," she said. "Heartbreaking."

    Los Angeles District Deputy Attorney John Lewin told Fox News that Gascón's intention not only leaves victims and their families unaware of their attacker's parole hearings but also keeps prosecutors and district attorney's offices in the dark.

    "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 said.

    Fox News reported that Gascón recently banned prosecutors from attending parole hearings.

    Organizers running Gascón's recall said his policies turned Los Angeles into a nightmare by emboldening criminals, abandoning victims, and leaving residents feeling unsafe.

    The effort to recall Gascón submitted over 700,000 signatures to the County Registrar's office earlier this month - more than 150,000 more than required. The Registrar's office has 30 days to verify the signatures. If the recall has enough verified signatures, Los Angeles residents have the chance to remove Gascón from office in November.

    Los Angeles Magazine reported the controversial district attorney spoke to his supporters at a fundraising event for the anti-recall group Stand with Gascón.

    "You sent me to the D.A.'s office to reform the criminal justice system-by ending mass incarceration, ending cash bail, ending the death penalty, and protecting our communities by holding cops accountable," he said. "That's what I've done - and that's what I'll continue to do as D.A."

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