San Diego County's top prosecutor announced Tuesday that she is removing all civil gang injunctions affecting 349 people, some of whom were barred by the court orders from things such as meeting in certain areas or wearing certain clothing in public 20 years ago.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said her office has filed petitions in San Diego Superior Court to lift all 20 civil gang injunctions in place in the county.
The injunctions did more harm than good and most were issued a decade or more ago, Stephan said. Civil rights activists have argued gang injunctions are disproportionately applied to Black and Latino people, and they often have no chance to prove they aren’t gang members.
The injunctions are court orders restricting the most active and dangerous gang members from congregating with other known gang members, fighting, carrying weapons and intimidation. However, no gang injunctions have been filed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office in the past eight years. The oldest existing injunction dates back to 1997.
The order remains in effect for a lifetime unless that person applies for removal and meets certain criteria.
“In our county, civil gang injunctions were put in place 10 to 20 years ago and for the most part had become stale, and in many cases, continue to cause hardships for people who have moved on and are trying to get a job or connect with relatives,” Stephan said in a statement.
Geneviéve Jones-Wright, who chairs the city's Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention's (CGPI) Gang Documentation Commitee, criticized Stephan's announcement for not giving credit to the years of work the CGPI did to reform gang injunctions.
“The erasure of contributions of community members who have been working on this issue for years now - with great resistance from law enforcement and the very elected officials who are taking credit for this reform - is a slap in the face,” Jones-Wright said.
Jones-Wright said the committee voted to recommend to the city council gang injunctions be eliminated in Sept 2019.
Many of the injunctions have been dissolved in recent days or are in the process of being removed.
Stephan promised to send letters to those affected to inform them their names had been purged from the lists.
Stephan said she worked with police chiefs and the sheriff in the county before removing the injunctions, which were filed by previous district attorneys.
“Gang injunctions are outdated, and do not serve their alleged purpose of protecting public safety,” said Mayor Todd Gloria, who pushed for them to be eliminated as part of his police reform proposals.
Since 2019, the county has removed gang injunctions affecting more than 400 people.
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