The debate on which form of crime prevention plan, incarceration of gang members between boundary limitations, is best able to deal with Southern California gang members is a matter of much concern for the residents and city-dwellers of California. There have been many issues with criminal activities in many of the surrounding cities of Los Angeles and Southern California. I believe that there are many incentives which residents can participate in to help minimize the amount of crime and gang threat that has been established in the state of California for the past 10 years.
This study addresses the following research question: Which form of crime prevention plan, incarceration of gang members between boundary limitations, is best able to deal with Southern California gang members between the years 2004-2007? It is important to understand this significant case due to the fact of the crime rates increase in the state of California between the years 2004 to 2007. In an effort to help out the citizens in the cities of southern California, the Superior Court of the Los Angeles County has been attempting to establish plans that will help reduce the amount of criminal activity in the areas surrounding Los Angeles.
Some methods which the Superior Court found useful were: Longer incarceration terms, city boundary limitations, and attempting to break gangs. This study argues that the best technique to deal with this crisis is to set city boundaries between persons affiliated with gangs. By way of organization, Section 1 compares the two best manners in which to deal with the matter of crime prevention. The city boundary limitation plan is much better than the incarceration plan overall for many reasons. Section 2 is the Case Study and Section 3 is the Summary.
Criminal activities in Southern California are not rare. In fact, they have been taking place since the 1980’s but have recently grown into a statewide feud. Law Enforcement agencies all around the country have been taking initiative and have held city council meetings to discuss the issue of gangs and crimes in the community. Although some states do not have a criminal problem as big as California, this state is doing the best it can to help reduce it the levels of crime. According to the United States Superior Court, “Gang prevention is the first step towards reaching a safe and secure community” (1). During the early 2000’s, the United States witnessed an increase in crime rates throughout southern California. Most of these increase in numbers were caused by local gangs and persons affiliated with gang members (2). It was not until the year 2001 when ex California State Governor Joseph Graham Davis took up the case to higher state officials that the crime issue was addressed.
A few months after the issue was mentioned, the Court of Appeals asked local California Police Departments for help and suggestions about what could be done. One department, Orange County Sheriffs, brought up the idea of banning the sale of firearms to persons with a criminal record. This suggestion was immediately turned down, advising that it was too difficult to establish and saying how it would change ammunition stores all across the country (3). The Los Angeles Police Department was the first to submit multiple options available that might help reduce crime rates. They suggested that since people affiliated with gangs come from different parts of the city, that it would be good if they create a boundary around registered criminals restricting them from being in the presence of a gang member (4). William J. Bratton was the first to present the idea to members of the court.
Santa Monica PD and Glendale PD both submitted opinions and ways that might be able to help the problem (5). One department which proposed a great idea was the Long Beach Police Department. They suggested that anyone convicted of being involved with gang for criminal activities should be given a longer incarceration term and should pay a much greater fine than that of another person who gets convicted for a crime other than gang related (6). Stephen Breyer, one of the nine members of the United States Supreme Court, became fascinated of this idea. He mentioned in an interview with the Chief of the Long Beach Police Department, Anthony W. Batts, that he believed his department’s idea was going to be a great choice knowing how the crime rate was (7). Growing up in California and seeing gang activity throughout his years, Breyer announced that the idea of longer incarceration periods was going to be one of the options that the court was definitely going to look in to.
After many submissions by many departments from all around the country were made, the Supreme Court came with the breaking down of decisions to only three options. They were: Longer incarceration and bigger fines, boundary limitations, and restriction of weapons and armory from crime felons (8). The court asked police officers around the state and also asked other law enforcement agencies to help with their opinions of what should be proposed and why (9). In a matter of weeks, the court was flooded with suggestions and tips on what should and should not be chosen for the issue and why. One of the suggestions came from the Santa Ana Police Department arguing how they should release the option of restricting felons from the possession of weapons, knowing that from past experiences within the department that it would be a major controversial issue and how it would anger many people. It also bothered people for the fact that they would fight the issue in court if it ever came into effect. With this in consideration, the court made little effort to keep that idea going and ended that option there before it became big (10).
Now the dispute was between the incarceration theory and the boundary limitation idea. The court seemed to be going more towards the incarceration theory, believing that sending convicts to jail and state penitentiaries for a longer period of time would only take up more space in jail cells and would not really help the other inmates. This idea was given a second thought for the fact of how American jails were becoming overcrowded with inmates and how the judges knew that the defendant was never going to be able to pay their amount of money they were ordered to give. Now the court was second guessing themselves around their idea. During the year 2004, an angry and furious gang war was set off in the streets of Los Angeles regarding the issue the curt was trying to settle. It was during this time that the court realized that gang wars were becoming out of control and that something had to be done. On June 16, 2004, the United States Supreme Court issued Order-242, to incarcerate any gang member convicted of being part of criminal gang activities (11).
Order-242 seemed to be having an effect and was working in a way to reduce crime on the streets, but was failing to help the state jails. Cells were becoming overcrowded with inmates as they rushed into the prisons. Many prisons around California became flooded with inmates and became breeding grounds for new gang members, being recruited by those who were placed in the prison by Order-242 (12). After seeing how the outcome of the ruling was turning, the Supreme Court spent time looking into the boundary limitation idea. They found that they could form injunctions all around the state of California in an attempt to restrict gang activity in the cities. Police Department personnel began speaking to each other and sending e-mails about the possibilities on the new injunction and found what they could do.
One of the many ways that they were able to create this was to first have members from different gangs appear before a court and dispute their opposition to it. This occurred on December 18, 2005 and was done before Judge David P. Yaffe. The judge approved the injunction and created a “No Zone” for members from all gangs in the Los Angeles County. The Court ordered that, “any member associated with any gang should not be enjoined and will be restrained from engaging in or performing directly or indirectly, any of the following activities in the Los Angeles area: Standing, sitting, running, walking, driving, gathering or appearing, anywhere in public view or anyplace accessible to the public, and associating with any other known gang members (13).
The injunction had a tremendous effect on all gang members and ridded many from the streets of Southern California. During this time, whenever any law enforcement official observes any gang member letting their presence known, the gang member will go straight to jail and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (14). Since the injunction was temporary, it ended its effect in January 22, 2007 (15). Until this day, gang crime and warfare had dramatically decreased and has been regulated by police officers from departments all around the county. It was a great plan designed to reduce the violence from gangs and it managed to work out in an orderly manner. I am sure that even though the injunction was lifted, the courts will have no problem placing it back in effect if anything major between gangs was to occur.