Sunday, May 31, 2015

cheating and incompetent overseers messed up the simple task of confirming gang affiliation...,


NYTimes |  In Stanislaus County, as in many counties in California and across the United States, law-enforcement officers keep a database of individuals that they have identified as gang members. From their point of view, these lists are vital and necessary, but activists argue that they can be discriminatory. Researchers have found that white gang membership tends to be underestimated and undercounted, while the opposite is true for black and Latino youth. In 1997, California created a statewide database, called CalGang, and by 2012, according to documents obtained by the Youth Justice Coalition, there were more than 200,000 individuals named in it (roughly the same number as the population of Modesto), including some as young as 10. Statewide, 66 percent were Latino, and one in 10 of all African-Americans in Los Angeles County between the ages of 20 and 24 were on the list.
When the STEP Act became law, there were dissenting voices, some of them unsurprising, like the American Civil Liberties Union. But there were others you might not expect: Among law-enforcement authorities, for example, there were concerns that the STEP Act could be applied too broadly. Wes McBride, a retired sergeant of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, told me that although he has come to see the law as valuable, he was initially skeptical. “We thought the original writing of that bill was bad,” he said. “It made being a gang member a crime, and that flies in the face of the Constitution, in my mind. What’s to stop the Boy Scouts from being considered a gang?” Shortly after the STEP Act went into effect, The Los Angeles Times quoted an anonymous law-enforcement official expressing concern: “I realize that we have to do something, but when you have carte blanche, it’s difficult not to abuse it.”

A quarter of a century later, this point is still being raised. Manohar Raju, a lawyer who manages the felony unit at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, told me he has seen prosecutors’ use of gang enhancements go up in recent years. Young men and women are bundled into the broad category of “gang member” all the time, based on photos like the ones shown at Sebourn’s trial; based on their wearing this color or that one; based, essentially, on a misunderstanding of how difficult these neighborhoods really are for youth. “Posing in a picture, acting cool or acting tough can be a navigation strategy,” Raju said. “That may not mean they want problems; in fact, it may mean the opposite.”

According to Raju, weak cases can seem stronger when prosecutors introduce gang enhancements. Instead of concrete evidence related to the criminal charge, gang allegations permit prosecutors to introduce potentially inflammatory information that might otherwise be legally irrelevant. “Now we’re looking at: what did some other person do six months earlier or six years earlier,” Raju said. “Your client may not have anything to do with them, but they both have some connection to some name or symbol.” In other cases, the very threat of the gang enhancement can often be enough to persuade a defendant to accept a plea bargain. Given the lengthy sentences that can result, a trial might not be worth the risk.

Roughly 7 percent of California’s prison population, around 115,000 people, is serving extra time because of gang enhancements; given that the state has been ordered by the Supreme Court to reduce its prison overcrowding, this is hardly an insignificant figure. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, nearly half of those convicted with gang enhancements are serving an additional 10 years or more. Black and Latino inmates account for more than 90 percent of inmates with gang enhancements; fewer than 3 percent are white.

6 comments:

BigDonOne said...

This just keeps getting "better." Y'all have seen the endless stream of ads - call 1-800...if you used this drug, or that medical appliance, and had a bad outcome....


Between innings in the Mariner's game today on ROOT SportsNW, Mrs.BD hollers, "BigDon, come here, you *HAVE* to see this." It was a commercial for some law firm featuring sorry-ass looking75z, with the pitch something like "Were you falsely arrested, handcuffed, booked, abused by the POH-lice, etc. etc.,...Call 1-800..."


It's bad enough that the police themselves are unilaterally (Ferguson Effect) backing off from doing their jobs. Now whole city and county administrations will be encouraging an unjustified soft-pedal to avoid a tsunami of expensive-to-litigate and settle frivolous lawuits.....


Bigtime anarchy on the horizon...

Dale Asberry said...

How does this comment have any relevance to this post?

CNu said...

lol, only developmentally-arrested septuagenarian I know! Thanks for keeping it One-hunnit BD. https://youtu.be/SzuOOshpddM

ken said...

"Roughly 7 percent of California’s prison population, around 115,000 people, is serving extra time because of gang enhancements; given that the state has been ordered by the Supreme Court to reduce its prison overcrowding, this is hardly an insignificant figure."

I suspect most would read the way this is phrased and think that 115,000 people in California alone are serving extra time because of gang enhancements...I am not sure if the author does this on purpose, or if this is just that poorly written. Seeing as this fact is stated somewhere else:

"California’s prison population has been on the decline for several years, since a 2006 peak of 163,000 inmates. In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of institutional design capacity. A mixture of reforms, inmate transfers, and new construction brought the population below the mandated threshold. As of March 2015, it stood at 112,300, or 135.8% of capacity."


We can assume then the Times article meant 7 percent of 115000 or about 8050 people are serving extra time for being affiliated with gangs, although for the someone just breezing through the article, you wouldn't come up with that the way its worded.

BigDonOne said...

Like you have previously stated, CNu...if BD didn't exist, you would have to invent him.

Uglyblackjohn said...

Sometimes the po-po just don't know. One Time couldn't handle Waco (Nor will they be able to handle any future reaction to the set-up and their alleged complicity when settlements are reached with the Black MCs) Texas has had a lot of shootings between members of unstructured gangs. There are higher-ups in state who are here to handle situations.