Especially in Los Angeles County, where County District Attorney George Gascón rules.
Gascón has proposed legislation that would bar felonies committed while a juvenile from being counted as “strikes” under California’s Three Strikes law when the person commits a felony as an adult. Superficially, it seems like a good idea. After all, Gascón argues, the child’s brain isn’t fully developed.
A sister of a gang-related murder victim exposed the flaw in that argument, though. Aja Courtney:
Anybody who has children understands that children know at very early ages what’s right from wrong[.]
Indeed. Virtually from the time the child can walk—and whose new-found mobility lets the child especially explore the matter—he learns the difference between right and wrong. The child starts developing, early on, an understanding of the distinction between the more complex concepts of fair and unfair; these are fully developed in children before they reach puberty.
Then Gascón blew up his own argument while being too absorbed with his own virtue to recognize it:
A juvenile system is based on rehabilitation, not on punishment…criminalization of young people leads to higher levels of recidivism, which means that it creates more insecurity in our community.
And when the juvenile commits a felony as an adult, that rehabilitation effort plainly has failed. Furthermore, young people aren’t criminalized by having the strikes continue to count. They criminalize themselves by continuing to commit crimes.
In the end, too, releasing a man back to the community—or to another community—before he’s been rehabilitated is what creates more insecurity in our community.