D.C. crime bill isn't a cure-all
By Carl Takei
The Jan. 13 editorial “Don’t stop now” promoted D.C. Council member Jack Evans’s latest crime bill and said the council “dealt poorly” with the gang injunctions proposal he tried to pass last summer. According to the editorial, that proposal failed because “misinformation abounded, and the risk to civil liberties was greatly exaggerated.”
Misinformation indeed abounded during last summer’s debate, but it came from the supporters of gang injunctions. The Post editorial board and others repeatedly made misleading assertions about the effectiveness of gang injunctions and their impact on civil liberties.
It is not true that gang injunctions deter violent crime. In the short term, simple measures such as stepped-up police patrols accomplish far more. And over the long term, gang injunctions are counterproductive. By impeding access to social services and decreasing trust in the police, they interfere with programs that address the causes of gang violence.
It is also not true that injunctions would respect civil liberties. The proposal pushed last summer would have prohibited people deemed to be gang members from “congregating” in “public space,” regardless of their reasons for being there. In California and other states where gang injunctions have been imposed, such measures often ensnare innocent people just because they hang out with neighbors or relatives or wear certain clothing.
This year’s crime bill differs in important respects from last summer’s proposal, but needs close scrutiny for fairness and efficacy.
The writer is a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital.
Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | January 22, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: carltakei | January 22, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | January 23, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: carltakei | January 24, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.