Letters to the Editor: Maurice Hastings is the victim of a system that demands convictions more than truth

Maurice Hastings and an unidentified woman look on as L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón speaks
Maurice Hastings, center, appears at a news conference in October with L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón to announce he was being released after 38 years in prison due to a erroneous conviction.
(J. Emilio Flores / Associated Press)

To the editor: Maurice Hastings lost what for some people is a lifetime, languishing in prison for 38 years for a crime he didn’t commit. There is no amount of money that can make up for that incalculable loss.

The data on the numbers of wrongfully incarcerated — mostly Black men — are staggering. The 2017 documentary film “Long Shot” details one case where both law enforcement and an overly zealous prosecutor were determined to convict an innocent man of a crime that video evidence showed he couldn’t possibly have committed.

What we owe Hastings is a deeply felt, full and total commitment to the reformation of the criminal justice system, so that police investigations and trials are about finding the truth, not just closing cases and adding victory notches to prosecutors’ belts.


Teresa DeCrescenzo, Studio City


To the editor: When Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said that Hastings “survived a nightmare,” I would have liked for some mention that more than half of that nightmare was because the office Gascón now leads refused Hastings’ request to retest the DNA evidence.

Your news article should have mentioned the district attorney whose office first refused that test. It was Gil Garcetti who, after losing the O.J. Simpson trial a few years earlier, might not have wanted another black mark on his office.

The district attorney’s office deserves zero credit for freeing Hastings. It routinely refuses requests to retest DNA and review other exculpatory evidence. It is the work of the Innocence Project that overcomes prosecutors’ refusals and eventually frees the wrongfully convicted.

Daniel Saks, Los Gatos, Calif.