Commentary

26-Year-Old Transgender Placed in Juvenile Facility

By Hans Bader | January 31, 2022 | 5:19pm EST
Featured are a row of prison cells. (Photo credit: Giles Clarke/Getty Images)
Featured are a row of prison cells. (Photo credit: Giles Clarke/Getty Images)

A 26-year-old convicted of violently sexually assaulting a 10-year-old child will be placed in a juvenile facility, despite being an adult and having committed violent crimes in multiple states.

Hannah Tubbs, who identifies as a transgender female, sexually assaulted a girl in a restroom eight years ago when Tubbs was just two weeks away from turning 18. At the time, Tubbs identified as male and used the name James, not Hannah. Tubbs grabbed the child by her neck, shoved her into a bathroom stall, and assaulted her.

Tubbs did not identify as female until after being taken into custody years later.

Progressive district attorney George Gascón refused to prosecute Tubbs as an adult. Because Gascón refused to try her as an adult, Tubbs was sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility for girls. Tubbs would likely have seen sentenced to at least eight years in prison, had she been tried as an adult.

As a TV station in Los Angeles (ABC7) explains,

"The violent crime happened just before her 18th birthday, and Tubbs remained free of charges until the DNA match....

"Hannah Tubbs, who identifies as a transgender female, has a lengthy criminal record including violent crimes in multiple states.

"A DNA match in 2019 linked Tubbs to a sexual assault at a Denny’s restaurant in Palmdale that occurred in 2014. Tubbs admitted to the sexual assault and said it happened in the restaurant’s bathroom.

"The violent crime happened just before her 18th birthday, and Tubbs remained free of charges until the DNA match.

"The case was prosecuted in juvenile court and was not transferred to adult court due to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s policy that states juveniles won’t be prosecuted as adults. A juvenile judge sentenced Tubbs to two years in a juvenile facility…the judge stated that essentially, under current legislation, [if] a person who commits a crime as a juvenile and is jailed in a juvenile facility once they turn 19, the court has no authority to transfer that person to an adult facility….Tubbs could have been sentenced to almost a decade in prison if she was tried and convicted as an adult."

Gascón is consistently soft on crime, and would not have tried Tubbs in adult court even if Tubbs were not transgender. He refuses to try people who committed crimes at age 16 or 17 in adult court, even when they commit aggravated murders. So teenage serial killers will not be held beyond age 25, no matter how many people they kill.

And Gascón refuses to seek sentence enhancements mandated by California law. For example, Gascón ordered prosecutors in Los Angeles County not to seek the sentencing enhancements approved by California voters in Proposition 8. That ballot initiative increased penalties for repeat offenders who commit willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault with a firearm. Prosecutors responded by bringing a lawsuit challenging Gascón’s order banning sentence enhancements. Gascón also will not let prosecutors in his office seek the death penalty under any circumstances.

It is disturbing that Gascón refuses to prosecute 17-year-old rapists and murderers as adults, because that results in them serving only short, inadequate sentences in a juvenile facility. Longer sentences are needed to deter crime and keep crime rates down.

Crime in California fell significantly after California voters adopted Proposition 8, which mandated longer sentences for repeat offenders. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found those longer sentences deterred many crimes from being committed. As it observed, three years after Proposition 8 was adopted, crimes punished with enhanced sentences had “fallen roughly 20-40 percent compared to” crimes not covered by enhanced sentences. Sentencing enhancements prevented crime by dissuading people outside of prison from committing crimes, not just by keeping convicted criminals in prison where it’s harder to commit a crime.

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department.

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