One aspect of new Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’s “reforms” that hasn’t been widely publicized is his Special Directive instructing Deputy District Attorneys that they are not permitted to attend parole hearings for inmates the office has prosecuted. That means that when a criminal who was convicted under a prior District Attorney is eligible for a parole hearing there will be no one there to argue on behalf of the community and the victim that the convicted criminal should stay behind bars.
Why does that matter? Well, because the inmate/criminal will have people testifying on their behalf, telling the parole board how the inmate has reformed and won’t go out and commit crimes in the community again. Normally the Deputy District Attorney cross-examines the witnesses the inmate brings forward and can also put forward witnesses who might put the inmate’s narrative into question. Without a DDA attending the hearing, the only evidence given to the parole board will be the evidence from the inmate’s attorney. Victims still have the right to appear and make a statement to the parole board, but they aren’t able to introduce evidence. The end result will be an increase in the number of inmates from Los Angeles County granted parole each year (including, possibly, the remaining members of the Manson Family), some of whom will likely be at high risk to re-offend.
One such inmate from Los Angeles County, convicted serial child rapist Ruben Beltran, has a parole hearing coming up March 11. He is serving a 15 years to life sentence after raping and assaulting a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, who are siblings. Beltran was a friend of the family who was temporarily living in the home to help with repairs. The victims were recently informed about the parole hearing then learned that Gascon’s new policy forbids attendance by the Deputy DA – and even forbids advocating against the inmate’s release, such as through writing a letter.
The victims’ mother told Fox 11 Los Angeles that she wrote Gascon asking him to reconsider his policy so the Deputy DA could attend the parole hearing about three weeks ago but hasn’t heard back, so she and her children spoke to Fox Wednesday night. Their identities are not being revealed.
“God, I was so young,” the sister said. “I was probably five or six, my parents had just been divorced when I was three or four, and [Beltran] moved in to ‘help repair the home,’ and so quickly after that, he just changed and turned into a manipulative monster.”
“He raped me,” the brother said. “The really hard part about it was I was a little boy, I didn’t have the words. The thing that’s so scary about him is he identifies the weak one he can hurt.”
The mother said:
“The perpetrator is a serial rapist, child rapist, he doesn’t have any preference for sex, age, race, he is a dangerous person.”
A representative for Gascon’s office had “no comment” on Fox’s report.
The family are upset that it’s up to them to work to keep Beltran behind bars when it’s really Gascon’s job, and that the system isn’t protecting victims as vigorously as it’s protecting criminals.
“Somehow the responsibility is in our court to protect society, and that’s simply not how it’s supposed to work,” the brother said.
“There’s just every element of protection for him, this violent monster criminal, and very little protection for us,” the sister said.
“I do not feel prepared, we are not attorneys,” Constance said. “We’re just a family, now we have to take on the role of law enforcement and take on the burden of trying to defend the community rather than the people who should be defending the community.”
The family also reached out to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for assistance, and Supervisor Kathryn Barger replied Thursday by sending a letter directly to the Parole Board asking them to deny parole for Beltran, and another to Gascon asking for a “thorough review” of the policy.
UPDATE: After seeing our story last night , L.A. County Supervisor @kathrynbarger sent a letter to the Parole Board, asking them to deny parole for this child rapist, and she sent a letter to D.A. George Gascon asking for a "thorough review" of his parole hearing policy. @FOXLA https://t.co/STdNFvNPGk pic.twitter.com/eulRGhI5MF
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) January 22, 2021