LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has told his own deputy district attorneys that the department's Parole Unit is being disbanded, drawing criticism that crime victims and families of those killed will no longer be notified by the department when the convicts responsible for the crimes are granted parole hearings.
Deputy DAs this week were informed through email that the "Administration has determined that it is 'not appropriate...'"
"He's basically abandoned victims and abandoned the job of the District Attorney," said Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami.
Hatami has long been critical of Gascón's attempts to reform the criminal justice system, including Gascón's ban on deputy DAs attending parole hearings. Hatami says this latest move is a way for Gascón to sweep violent crime under the rug.
"He doesn't want anybody to know that these individuals are up for parole, he doesn't want anybody to know that these individuals are going to be released, he doesn't want the victims complaining, he doesn't want anybody here in the office complaining, and he basically wants to release serious and violent criminals and he doesn't care what happens," Hatami told Eyewitness News.
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Gascón was unavailable to talk with Eyewitness News, but his office issued a statement saying victims can fill out a form requesting notification of any parole hearings for the convicts behind their crimes, but that deputy DAs have been notifying victims who have not submitted that paperwork.
"Victims experts have informed us that this is not a trauma-informed approach, and we agree," reads the statement. "Contacting victims and their next of kin can be very triggering especially if they do not welcome the intrusion."
"Baloney," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who says Gascón's policies leave crime victims feeling as if they have no voice. Barger says Gascón, who is facing a second recall effort, needs to be removed.
"As much as I do not like recalls," Barger said, "I'm hoping that we get a new district attorney in that is actually going to be the voice for those who feel that the system has turned their back on them."
Gascón's office says the job of telling victims of upcoming parole hearings rests with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which only notifies victims if they submitted the appropriate forms.