Latino Civic Alliance Rejects Gang Injunction Legislation

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An important statewide Latino organization in Washington State has weighed in against gang injunction legislation in the state legislature. Here's what Latino Civic Alliance has to say:

"While injunctions have proliferated in major cities in the United States, there have been only a few studies that measure their effectiveness like the RAND study prepared for the US Justice Department which found civil gang injunctions are not proven to have a direct, long-term impact on crime. By reversing the burden of proof and issuing punishment for actions that might occur rather than crimes that are actually committed. Without proof of a crime, does the government have the right to restrict the otherwise lawful behavior of its citizens because of affiliation?

"After being labeled as a gang member, one is closely watched by law enforcement in the neighborhoods where injunctions have been implemented. Any violation of the civil injunction, even if the violation is unintentionally walking to the corner store at the same time as another person on the list, it is cause for arrest. Civil gang injunctions will only increase citizen incarceration as they may be issued “stay away” orders and exclude from family and friends who might actually help them change their lives. This will increase the over representation for people of color in our judicial system.

"Currently in California the leading state implementing civil injunctions, the Oakland City Council voted to prevent the expansion of gang injunctions pending additional assessment. Oakland has already spent over $1 million on two temporary injunctions in North Oakland and Fruitvale, targeting the movement and associations of alleged gang members. Oakland’s gang injunctions were met with sustained protest throughout the last eighteen months and have been widely condemned as ineffective, divisive, costly, and further institutionalizing police use of force. In the present economic crisis Washington State is experiencing we question our major cities especially in rural towns will be able afford the high cost of implementing civil gang injunctions.

"We can create safer neighborhoods by investing in education, prevention and intervention measures rather than investing in administrative costs to implement civil gang injunctions regardless of the age of individuals. In these tough economic times our tax payer dollars should be better used to utilize more efficiently the existing laws in place to arrest violent gang offenders. The lack of evidence that civil injunctions will effectively decrease gang violence and not impede on civil liberties is a major concern. Latino Civic Alliance believes that safety is a priority for our communities and in order to achieve this we understand that enforcement is necessary, however gang injunctions is not the solution. Latino Civic Alliance rejects HB2594."

For more information about Latino Civic Alliance, visit them online.