Blueprint for Justice - Nathan Hochman
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BLUEPRINT FOR JUSTICE

I’m running for District Attorney because I love Los Angeles County. I’m a lifelong Angeleno. I was born here, raised, and schooled here, met my wife now of 30 years here, and raised my three children in the City of the Angels. Like millions of Angelenos who love this place, I am shocked and disappointed at how our public safety has seriously worsened over the last three years under current DA George Gascon. I am prepared to fight to restore it. My Blueprint for Justice outlines the changes I will make as your District Attorney to restore safety and justice to our county. Under Gascon’s leadership, veteran prosecutors were stripped of their ability to file appropriate charges against violent, repeat offenders. They were told to request reduced prison sentences, even if they thought doing so would create a miscarriage of justice, endanger the public and prevent victims from seeing offenders appropriately punished. Violent crimes and property crimes have surged during Gascon’s time in office, which is exactly what you would expect when criminals are released under the most lenient criminal justice policies, not prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and let out of prison before they have served their full sentences. This will end when I am elected District Attorney of Los Angeles County. As your District Attorney, I will fairly enforce the laws and make public safety the number one priority of the office. My Blueprint for Justice describes the actions I will take from Day 1 to restore public safety in Los Angeles County.

 

My Blueprint for Justice will:

 

  • Restore the purpose of the District Attorney’s Office to fairly, effectively, and vigorously prosecute those who break laws in Los Angeles County based on the evidence and the law;

 

  • Restore the integrity and independence of the District Attorney by not making decisions based on a party affiliation or political ideology but solely on the facts and the law; I am running as an Independent (no party preference) because I believe the DA needs to be fiercely independent and have encouraged all other candidates to do the same;

 

  • Restore the trust in the District Attorney of the prosecutors he leads so instead of 97.8% voting to support the DA’s recall, 100% of them will feel empowered to use their collective 1000s of years of experience and wisdom to carry out their mission to hold criminals accountable for their actions;

 

  • Restore the partnership between law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office so that law enforcement will know that the DA’s Office will do its job if they do theirs;

 

  • Restore the priority of protecting victims’ interests instead of criminals’ interests by, for example, reversing current policy and allowing prosecutors again to accompany victims at parole hearings when they face their victimizers;

 

  • Restore opportunities for rehabilitation for those who suffer from mental illness and/or drug addiction by re-invigorating the use of drug and mental illness courts and working to implement effective treatments through CARE courts;

 

  • Restore opportunities for those who go to prison to emerge with a skill set by working with organizations like The Last Mile (thelastmile.org) which teaches coding skills to prisoners, to break the over 50% recidivism rate where people who are released from prison end up back in prison within two years of release.

Eliminate Blanket Filing Policies

Justice is not served by one-size-fits-all policies implemented by our current DA. On my first day in office, I will rescind all of Gascon’s pro-criminal, blanket policies that have “de-carceration” as their primary goal. These policies represent one end of the pendulum swing designed to release violent and serious criminals before they serve their full sentences and not prosecute such criminals in the first place to the full extent of the law. I reject blanket policies on both ends of the pendulum swing, those of “mass incarceration” and “Gascon’s de-incarceration” and instead advocate the “hard middle.” The “hard middle” is hard because it requires work, experience, and years of judgment to analyze each case individually, focusing on the defendant, the crime(s) committed, and the impact on the victim(s). This approach will determine who the true threats are to our public safety and must be behind bars and the ones that aren’t, such as a first-time, non-violent offender, for whom community service or a diversion program may be the best path to have them pay back their debt to society. The “hard middle” strikes the proper balance of accountability since it enables prosecutors to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, driven first and foremost by increasing public safety, pursuing justice for victims, and providing fairness and accountability to offenders. Unlike Gascon whose blanket policies demonstrate distrust in his prosecutors, leading to over 97% of them to support his recall, I believe the greatest asset of the DA’s Office is the collective thousands of years of experience and judgment the approximately 900+ prosecutors bring to their work. I will empower them, learn from them, and make decisions based on that collective wisdom to promote public safety, allowing the evidence and the law to dictate the result, not a political ideology.

Sentencing Enhancements

I will eliminate Gascon’s prohibition of the use of strikes, sentencing enhancements, and special allegations. These laws were created by the Legislature, and in some cases the voters, to add additional prison time for the most violent crimes and the most violent offenders. Under my administration, violent criminals who use guns or other deadly weapons will be prosecuted and punished, not released back to the street to commit more crimes.  The one group that has been most assuredly paying attention to Gascon’s pro-criminal policies has been the criminals themselves.  Under my administration, they will understand that the lines will not be moved in their direction but fairly, justly, and consistently enforced in accordance with the evidence and the law.

Retail Theft

I will instruct my deputies to prosecute “smash-and-grab” robbers to the full extent of the law, rather than send them back to the streets as Gascon has done. This will keep dangerous criminals behind bars unable to reoffend, provide a sense of safety to small business owners and their customers, and deter gang members and others from committing these crimes.  When the state makes funding available to fight organized retail theft, I will travel to Sacramento to make sure the L.A. County DA’s Office gets the resources it needs to stop the epidemic of organized retail crime. In contrast, Gascon declined the state’s offer of millions of dollars as “smash and grab” robberies spread throughout the County.  Moreover, with my prior experience leading task forces, I will lead the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, set up by Mayor Karen Bass, rather than take a backseat as Gascon has done, not even being invited to the press conference establishing the task force.

Hardcore Gang Unit

I will restore the DA’s Hardcore Gang Unit, which was downsized and renamed by Gascon. This unit for decades enabled prosecutors and law enforcement to work jointly to combat the most dangerous gang members in Los Angeles County and prioritized funding and resources to prevent deadly gang violence. This unit will partner with veteran law enforcement officers to investigate and prosecute gang violence, striving to keep our communities safe by holding violent offenders accountable.

Parole Hearings

After he took office, Gascon ordered his prosecutors to no longer attend parole hearings. Even in the most egregious cases, such as the murder of Los Angeles County sheriff’s chaplain Bruce Bryan and the attempted murder of Sheriff’s Deputy Terrence Wenger, Gascon’s deputies are instructed to not attend parole hearings and not argue for the continued incarceration of murderers, child molesters and rapists. As just one example, without input from the DA’s office, the parole board voted in September 2023 to recommend that Byran’s killer, Derek “D Krazy” Pettis, be released on parole. That’s when I, as a private citizen, decided to take action. I wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and urged him to use his authority to reverse the parole board’s recommendation and deny Pettis parole. On Day 1 as District Attorney, I will reverse Gascon’s shocking pro-criminal parole policy and immediately start sending Deputy District Attorneys to parole hearings to provide input on whether violent offenders should be released on parole. Our victims’ unit will support victims, survivors, and families throughout the parole hearing process. If you would like to urge Newsom to reject parole for Pettis, please write him yourself.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. 2 milligrams (the equivalent of two grains of rice) will kill you in 2 minutes. Fentanyl’s only purpose is to get you highly addicted and then kill you.  In fact, it is the number one killer of people between 18-35 years old, and the DEA estimates that 7 out of 10 fake pills ranging from OxyContin and Adderall to Xanax and Percocet contain lethal doses of fentanyl.  The Mexican drug cartels are importing into California enough fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drugs to kill the entire California population many times over.  Gascon has refused to treat fentanyl poisoners/murderers as the threats they are to our children.  He has refused to provide warnings to convicted fentanyl dealers that if they do the crime again and someone dies, they will be charged with murder.  As District Attorney, I will hold those fentanyl poisoners/murderers fully accountable for their actions of spreading this poison throughout our communities. Every fentanyl dealer will be warned of the severe repercussions to their liberty if they kill a person with their poison.  And I will work to bring a massive education effort to students and their parents in middle and high schools about the lethal danger fentanyl poses.  Gascon’s failure to act costs lives every day; that will change on Day 1 of my administration.

Justice, Not Politics

As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney General, I personally prosecuted more than 100 cases, from violent gang members and narcotics traffickers to corrupt public officials, money launderers, tax evaders, and environmental criminals. Gascon has not personally prosecuted (or defended) a criminal case in his life.  In addition, I served as the President of the L.A. City Ethics Commission holding public officials accountable for their actions. I will be ready on Day 1 to remove politics from prosecutorial decisions and restore independence, honesty, and integrity to prevent crime, protect public safety, and ensure justice is served to all LA County residents. My No. 1 priority as District Attorney will be restoring public safety and advocating for victims of crime and their families. Politics has no place in the DA’s Office. Criminals don’t ask for your political registration before they rob you; so too should the DA not be controlled by a political party or political ideology in making decisions over people’s liberty. My North Stars are the evidence and the law, not political calculations.

Environmental Crime

Los Angeles County is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in the world, with its beaches, mountains, hiking trails, parks, and forests. But that won’t last if we allow corporations and others to pollute our natural resources in violation of local and state laws. I will make the enforcement of environmental laws a top priority of the DA’s Office, just as I did when I ran the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, targeting air, water, and land polluters. I am the only candidate who has decades of experience prosecuting and defending environmental crimes; I know how to work with local-state-federal agents to investigate such criminal activity, prosecute it, and punish it with imprisonment and significant fines. Our current DA has failed miserably to bring such cases or prioritize this enforcement. That is not a surprise since he had zero environmental criminal prosecution experience before taking office. From Day 1, I will bring environmental justice to all LA county residents who have suffered from chemical or oil spills in their neighborhoods, polluted water in their water supply, streams, rivers and ocean, and dangerous and toxic air pollution from environmental criminals. We will change the “environment” in which such criminals operate to one of justice and enforcement instead of the current one of lax or no enforcement.

Mental Health, Addiction, Homelessness

Public parks, sidewalks, and streets belong to the public, not any one person or any one group, and must be protected and maintained on behalf of the public.  As District Attorney, I will remove dangerous, violent, unsafe and unsanitary homeless encampments on public property in full accordance with the law.  I have worked with HOST (Homeless Outreach Services Team), which partners trained law enforcement officers with those from the LA Homeless Services Authority, LA Department of Mental Health, LA Department of Public Works, and non-profit homeless organizations to successfully and compassionately remove homeless encampments throughout the county, implementing their five-point protocol (identify, assess, outreach, notice, relocate).  In my administration, prosecutors will hold those that violate the law accountable but work to direct those suffering from mental illness or substance abuse disorders into treatment. I will encourage the use of mental health and drug courts staffed by prosecutors, defense attorneys, social workers and judges who understand mental illness and addiction to find the best solutions for the mentally ill and substance addicted. They will receive assistance with medication, therapy, housing, education, and job training. Because many of the people experiencing homelessness have mental health issues, the mental health court can be an excellent place to intervene and break the cycle of homelessness. I will work to make the CARE courts a success in treating those with severe mental illness since the alternative is to incarcerate them in jails where they receive little to no assistance with their illness or put them back on the street which is condemning them to a life fraught with violence and danger.  I will also work to expand CARE courts to those suffering from substance addictions.

Non-violent, low-level offenders

Not all crimes deserve jail time. In fact, the justice system has a powerful opportunity to intervene and prevent future offenses if it acts with caring and compassion and provides a path to success for first-time, non-violent offenders. Unlike Gascon, I won’t pretend that these criminals have not committed the crimes they have.  In seeking to hold them accountable, I will offer them the opportunity to pay their debt to society through community service or a diversion program, rather than necessarily sending them to jail.  If they meet the court’s requirements, cases can be dismissed in the future so that criminal records do not prevent them from pursuing employment or education.  Having worked not only as a prosecutor but as a defense attorney for decades, I believe that first-time, non-violent offenders are often at a crossroads in their life.  If they are given an opportunity to choose the right path and then successfully complete it, these offenders may stay out of the criminal justice system for the rest of their lives.

Cash bail

The issue of bail when a person is arrested and subsequently arraigned should be based primarily on a risk analysis: the risk that person poses to commit future crimes and the risk of flight to not show up for future hearings.  The cash bail system needed to be adjusted to deal with situations in which people who posed such risks received bail not commensurate with these risks and were released; or people who did not pose such risks remained incarcerated because they could not afford the minimum bail.  The answer, however, does not lie in implementing a zero-bail system where criminals are either cited and released or arrested in the morning and out by the afternoon.  Instead, the courts must institute a risk-based system, layering onto the cash bail system, where magistrates are available 24/7 to have hearings to assess the risks and impose appropriate bail for all arrested individuals and a robust pretrial services department provides magistrates with key bail information and then monitors those on bail to ensure their compliance with their bail conditions.

Death Penalty

The death penalty should be subject to the highest level of scrutiny by the DA’s Office, a jury, and the courts and should only be used in the rarest of cases.  However, there are such extreme cases – for example, where police officers are assassinated in cold blood, where mass shootings at a school occur, where terrorists kill hundreds through a bombing — when the death penalty should be on the table for consideration.  I am well aware of the troubled history of the death penalty, of those who have later been vindicated, and of the philosophical issues concerning its implementation.  However, as District Attorney, I take an oath to uphold all the laws, not just the laws I like.  As long as the death penalty is the law of California – having prevailed on the ballot twice in the last 12 years – I will honor my oath and subject it to the highest level of review, considering its charging in the most heinous of cases to which it applies.

Police Misconduct

I have incredible respect for law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. I also will not tolerate criminal conduct by those we entrust to enforce the law. I have been a prosecutor and U.S. Assistant Attorney General working with law enforcement to build cases; I have been a co-founder of the L.A. Sheriff’s Foundation providing needed resources to the Sheriff’s Department; I have defended law enforcement officers in administrative and court hearings; yet, I am the only candidate who has actually personally prosecuted law enforcement officers when they crossed the line (and in that case, stole money and drugs from drug dealers) and cross-examined them as a defense attorney.  As a result of these experiences, I have the credibility to assess the cases where police misconduct has crossed the line and must be prosecuted while continuing to have the backs of the overwhelming numbers of law enforcement officers who do their job justly and faithfully every day.

It is time to restore public safety in Los Angeles County. Vote March 5, 2024 for Nathan Hochman as Los Angeles County District Attorney.