Hundreds of people once named as members of criminal street gangs were given a second chance by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office when their names were removed from a list updated by local law enforcement and prosecutors.
After careful review, the names of 332 people were purged from the list of residents tied to criminal street gangs.
Seven hundred and ninety-nine people were the subjects of civil injunction gang orders involving 12 of the most violent and most active gangs operating in the area.
“When a civil gang injunction is issued, it is permanent. It lasts a lifetime,” District Attorney Summer Stephan explained.
Being on such a list can flag an individual when it comes to gaining employment and can keep them from engaging with family.
Individuals may apply to be removed from the list based on a change of circumstances, she said.
Since the civil injunctions first occurred in San Diego County in 1997, only 20 individuals have applied to have those orders removed.
After reviewing the list of individuals on the existing civil injunctions, Stephan said prosecutors filed motions on behalf of individuals who met the following criteria:
- No conviction of a violent felony for 10 years
- Out of custody with no criminal convictions for 5 years
- No activity that demonstrates loyalty to a criminal street gang for 5 years
Once the motions were approved, the DA's Office sent letters to those affected in late February.
“What we’re doing in trying to prevent people in joining gangs is working,” said Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter.
“We’d like nothing more than to have no need for an injunction or a gang list,” he said.
Stephan said the decision to begin the process of removing names from the list came after her office received several requests by community members.
Many of the individuals purged from the list live in San Diego, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and National City.
The DA's Office will continue to conduct reviews of civil injunctions once a year.