Citing evidence that 10 percent of criminals commit up to half of all crime, Los Angeles police officials and prosecutors have agreed to seek the stiffest possible penalties for the most frequent repeat offenders, even for relatively minor crimes, the Los Angeles Times reports. The so-called 10 percenter program, which could begin operating in courtrooms this summer, aims to reduce crime on the streets by keeping repeat criminals behind bars as long as possible. The program does not require new laws but rather involves police and prosecutors working together to identify repeat offenders. They will use a standardized form to document why convicted criminals merit special attention, then ask judges to sentence them to the maximum possible.
In some cases, repeat offenders will be spotted through court records, which list convictions. But in others, those targeted will be identified based on police reports, intelligence data, and arrests or other accusations that did not result in convictions. That material is not admissible during a trial but can be considered by a prosecutor in deciding what penalty to seek and by a judge at sentencing. Civil libertarians and defense attorneys fear the plan could be abused. The brainchild of Assistant Police Chief George Gascon, the 10 percenter program holds that because those who commit major crimes tend also to be responsible for minor ones, locking up criminals who repeatedly commit minor offenses could help protect the city from more serious crimes.