currently written allows a court to issue an order as a pretrial condition of release
at apoint when no crime has been proven at all. Finally, there appears to be no provision toprovide notice to the public of where these exclusion zones are located. Given thepotential for infringement of civil liberties, the omission of basic due process protectionsfrom the proposed ordinance is troubling.In contrast to existing legislation on drug and prostitution areas, PO 0135 invites racialprofiling in its enforcement. People who have been in gangs, studied, or worked aroundthem know that it is very difficult to accurately identify gang members by clothing orother visual factors. They also know that gangs are mobile rather than confined toparticular blocks or parcels, and can easily move elsewhere once banned from aparticular area. There is no simple visual way to make the determination of who in anarea is violating a gang zone
and it is all too often made on the basis of race, ethnicity,mode of dress, or other factors that have more to do with stereotyping than effective law enforcement. For example, racially biased enforcement of gang injunctions in Oaklandhas been documented, with local community members complaining of abuse andprofiling.In considering this legislation, the King County Council should take a hard look at theavailable evidence
the vast weight of which has shown that, at best, gang injunctionsof this kind have little to no impact on violent crime rates, and at worst, that they actively increase crime by bringing young people who are trying to reintegrate intosociety back into the criminal justice system, with all the unnecessary expense thatentails. Rather than creating an expensive new crime for these young people to violate,those same resources should be allocated to keeping them out of gangs in the first place, while focusing law enforcement efforts on those who commit violent crimes.
PO 0134 is unnecessary and infringes on due process.
PO 0134 creates a new general crime of criminal gang intimidation, which under state statute applies only toschool enrollees. But the state statute was limited to those in school with good reason
schoolchildren are a captive audience with an obligation to go to school,
be harassed while there to join or rejoin a gang. More broadly, we already have a statelaw that prohibits threats of bodily injury (RCW
9A.46.020) and don’t need to create a
new crime. Additionally, the proposal is vague and likely would not have any impact oncoerced recruiting into gangs since the ordinance does not require any proof that theperson making the threat is actually a gang member or is attempting to force the victimto join a particular gang.
POs 0134 and 0135 will take funds and focus away from the proven solution of prevention and intervention, which King County has already under-invested in.
Both of these proposed ordinances take the view that we can arrest our way out of thegang problem
and take our focus away from what we already know works. Multiplestudies have shown
—and the federal government’s Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention agrees
that the most effective mechanisms for keeping young people out of gangs are proactive prevention and intervention programs, such as thosethat a number of under-funded organizations in King County are already providing. This investment will pay for itself in reduced criminal justice costs for gang-involvedyouth in the future, as well as in safer communities.