Plan to modify L.A. gang injunctions splits lawmakers along party lines

Senate OKs easing restrictions on gang members who steer clear of crime for 5 years. The bill goes next to the Assembly.

By Patrick McGreevy
June 26, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento — A key strategy in Los Angeles’ battle against street gangs — the use of court injunctions — has come under attack by state lawmakers who are moving to strictly limit it.

The state Senate has approved a measure that would allow suspected gang members who do not commit a crime for five years to be automatically removed from civil injunctions unless prosecutors can show they remain a public threat.
The injunctions, which cover 66 gangs and more than 11,000 people in Los Angeles, allow tough penalties if those named are found loitering together, wearing gang attire, flashing gang signs, possessing alcohol, acting in an intimidating manner or possessing spray-paint cans of the type used in graffiti.

“We are not taking away a tool. We are just saying it needs to be used carefully,” said state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood). “Right now you have no limit at all. You have people who have been under injunctions for 20 years. There is no offramp.”

Wright wrote the measure, which was approved over the objections of Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and is under consideration by the state Assembly.

Wright said there are residents of city housing projects in Los Angeles who were included in injunctions because they live next to and associate with active gang members, even though they have never been convicted of a crime. An injunction, Wright said, has hampered the ability of some young men to get jobs, because it is discovered when employers conduct background checks.

The proposal has divided California lawmakers along party lines.

“I felt uncomfortable with the idea of automatically taking someone off the court order and requiring law enforcement to show why they should remain,” said Sen. George Runner, a Republican from Lancaster. “I felt this was too much a burden for law enforcement.”

Runner said he trusts prosecutors to make sure the gangs involved are those involved in felony crimes.

Removal from an injunction is so difficult that only one person has achieved it in Los Angeles.

That has frustrated David, a 26-year-old Los Angeles resident who spoke on condition that his full name not be used for fear of retaliation by authorities. He said he was served with an injunction in 2001 at a company where he worked, at a time when he associated with members of a neighborhood gang but was not a member himself.

Last arrested in 2002 on a gun charge, David said he has stopped associating with gang members and has not been convicted of a crime in seven years.

“I’ve been clean, working every day, earning a living for my son,” David said. “I don’t think it’s fair that I am still in the injunction. It has kept me from getting a better job.”

Posted by on Jun 26 2009. Filed under Gang Injunctions, 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.

1 Comment for “Plan to modify L.A. gang injunctions splits lawmakers along party lines”

  1. […] made against police in communities where gang injunctions have been imposed and earlier this year, California lawmakers were discussing modifications that should be made to gang injunctions, during the last several years, youth who have never been […]

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