Gang crackdown in Bakersfield

Last Update: 4/23 9:29 pm
KGET

District Attorney Ed Jagels announced 85% of gang leaders or “shot callers” have been arrested or are in sight to be caught by Bakersfield police.

Jagels said his office along with Bakersfield police plan to catch nearly all the gang shot callers on the current Target Gangs list by July. He also announced an expansion to the list–adding both names and another gang, the Colonia Gang.

The target gangs program has almost met its goal of arresting and prosecuting 105 gang leaders.

“We didn’t think we’d have this many in prison this soon so we’re very gratified with the results,” Jagels told 17 News.

The program has cracked down on gangs in the eight months it has been operating. Sixty-three gang members were sent to jail or prison, three gang members have pending felony sentences, two have died and one has moved out of state.

Members in the community like Lisa Keith have noticed the program at work and finds the increased police presence in the area comforting.

“I’m glad they’re doing it. it’s a good program,” Keith said adding she feels safer with the police around.

There’s no doubt the program created just eight months ago has been successful but sometimes the criminals are caught and arrested for smaller crimes and released from jail after just a few months.

“We know they are big gangsters but we caught them for small crimes. Misdemeanors, sometimes multiple misdemeanors,” Jagels said. “We’ve sent them to jail for relatively short periods of time, but we’re going to send them to jail over and over and over again if we have to.”

But Manuel Carrizales of Stay Focused Ministries is concerned with the gang members coming back after being locked up.

“When they come back in society, what are we going to do with them?” Manuel wonders.
Carrizalez speaks from experience. Twenty years ago he was in a gang and he knows what several years in an 8 by 7 jail cell feels like.

“I had a broken heart,” Carrizalez explained. “So a lot of these guys who came from the lifestyle that i did have a broken heart. Broken dreams. They have no vision.”

From his personal experiences Carrizalez thinks the way to help is through mentoring so gang members will stay off the streets and out of trouble. He mentors many gang members and former gang members at his office on California Street.

“A lot of the guys when they get out–an example would be like a coil. Because they’ve been doing so much time and when they get it it just pops,” he says.

The gang members Carrizalez works with talk about the Target Gangs list proving the program is well known in gang circles. He thinks the concept of getting gangs off the streets is a good one, but he would just like to see Target Gangs do more with rehabilitating and mentoring the gang members once they are imprisoned.

Ramiro Diez was in a gang throughout his childhood and much of his adult life. He quit the gang just 5 years ago. Diez says the District Attorney’s program will probably work but agrees with Carrizalez in many ways too. He says it’s all about changing the gang member’s minds.

“It (Target Gangs) sounds like a good idea. It sounds like it will probably work. You know but we just got to…a lot of people have to put their mind to it.”

stef Posted by on Apr 23 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Comments for “Gang crackdown in Bakersfield”

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