L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday that policies enacted during his first three months in office will result in convicted defendants spending thousands of fewer years in prison, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars, reports the LAist. One of Gascón’s signature policies is to dramatically reduce the use of sentencing enhancements, and that accounts for the reduced time. The penal code has more than 100 such enhancements, many of them dating back to when California was facing soaring crime in the 1980s and 1990s.
Gascón is part of a growing number of prosecutors who argue the justice system has locked up too many people for too long with no real public safety benefit. If the defendants accused during these changes are convicted, their shorter sentences will save the state prisons $664 million, according to Gascón. He based that estimate on the average yearly cost to imprison someone in California, which is just over $81,000. Gascon also touted no longer seeking the death penalty in 17 active cases, withdrawing 77 pending motions to transfer minors to adult court, and hiring former federal prosecutor Lawrence Middleton to serve as a special prosecutor to review past police shootings among his accomplishments during his first 100 days in office.