As gang injunctions – court orders barring gang members from associating with one another, carrying graffiti tools, violating curfews, and other such activities – have spread to dozens of jurisdictions, officials have begun to confront perceived glitches in the system, says Copley News Service. Since launching the first injunctions in the 1980s, Los Angeles has targeted 50 gangs and more than 10,000 people, and no individual has ever been released from a gang injunction.
Concerned that the program may be keeping some people in the gang lifestyle – and preventing gangsters-turned-counselors from doing their jobs – authorities in Los Angeles have overhauled the system. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has tightened requirements for including gang members on the lists, as well as an exit plan for those no longer active in gangs. He expects his new system to become a model for balancing crime-fighting and civil-liberties concerns in gang injunctions nationwide. Delgadillo brought in a pair of former high-ranking federal prosecutors to draft new guidelines. On the front end, prosecutors will review the evidence against suspected gang members whom police want to add to the injunction lists; those added will be personally served with the legal papers. In the old system, police could add people with little oversight and there was no requirement that individuals be formally notified of their inclusion.