The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Orange County District Attorney over the gang injunctions there as more of the same civil injunctions crop up around the state. These injunctions are arguably robbing certain people of their rights without the benefit of due process and, according to some sources, are doing so without having any positive impact on crime (as they are intended to do).
Gang injunctions first became popular in the 1980s when gang activity began taking over the Bay Area. They are civil restraining orders, similar to those taken out in suspected domestic violence cases. But these injunctions differ in that they are used against a group suspected against gang activity.
The injunctions impose curfews in certain areas; restrict people from gathering and wearing their gang colors, and a number of other stipulations. While the recent injunctions name suspected gang members, the original ones would name “300 Does” or 300 John Does—implying they could be applied to anyone.
The OC District Attorney recently brought an injunction against 115 specific people, 62 of which appeared in court to fight the charges. Those who didn’t show up were subject to the injunction by default while those who did could fight the imposition.
Now, the DA is named in his own civil lawsuit with the ACLU claiming he has “intentionally deprived these individuals of their day in court.” The suit is absolutely right though the DA claims they acted within the letter of the law.
As that particular battle will be waged in federal court, other jurisdictions are filing their own injunctions. San Francisco approved its fourth last year and Oakland is working on their second.
The intention of the injunctions is obviously to reduce gang related crime but statistics show they aren’t effective at all. As a matter of fact, in the first month since the Oakland injunction was filed, shootings within the area covered by the injunction actually doubled.
There are allegations that some people named within the injunctions aren’t gang members and don’t belong on the documents at all, another issue worth arguing. The orders are said to be written on sometimes outdated and unreliable information making their usefulness moot.
Many bad decisions are made in the name of crime reduction and often misinformed public support policies that end up hurting the communities because they don’t know any better. Misunderstandings and mistakes are common within the field of criminal justice just as many criminal defendants will tell you.
If you’re facing criminal charges and feel as if you are the subject of a misunderstanding or a mistake, contact us today. As California criminal defense attorneys, fighting for the rights of the accused is what we do.