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California Governor Approves Measures to Fight Gang Violence
October 11, 2007 - California Governor Schwarzenegger today announced that he has signed legislation to fight gang violence in California. The package of bills will advance the Governor’s California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) Initiative. One proposal establishes the Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy; others are focused on education for youthful offenders, witness protection, anti-gang violence parenting classes and civil remedies that would allow a landlord to evict a gang offender.
“Too many innocent people have been injured and killed in gang-related crimes,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “These bills will help put a stop to this violence by providing law enforcement officials with the tools they need to identify and prosecute violent gang members. In addition, these bills will provide opportunities for young offenders to turn their lives around and become productive members of society.”
The following bills have been signed into law by the Governor:
- AB 1381 by Assemblymember Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) establishes the Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy and requires it to administer various federal grants relative to juvenile justice including street gang crime prevention.
- AB 1300 by Assemblymember Curren D. Price, Jr. (D-Inglewood) expands the law to include comprehensive education to youthful offenders, in addition to training, treatment and rehabilitative services. This new legislation provides that the services be designed to promote family ties, in addition to community restoration and accountability to victims and to produce youth who become law-abiding and productive members of society.
- AB 1291 by Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) provides that if a minor is found to be a delinquent ward of the court by reason of the commission of a gang-related offense and the court finds that the minor is a first-time offender and orders that a parent or guardian retain custody of that minor, the court may order the parent or guardian to attend anti-gang violence parenting classes.
- AB 1013 by Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) adds the circumstance of a person who commits an offense involving use of illegal weapons or ammunition or uses the premises to further that purpose to those circumstances that are deemed to constitute a nuisance which may allow a landlord to evict a gang offender.
- SB 594 by Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) renames the “Witness Protection Program” to the “Witness Relocation and Assistance Program.” It also authorizes reimbursement to state and local agencies for providing support, advocacy and other services for witnesses' safe, long-term transition and well-being into a new environment.
Last month, the Governor appointed former U.S. Attorney Paul Seave as his Director of Gang and Youth Violence Policy. The Governor also appointed twelve advisory team members to help build comprehensive, long-term strategies to fight gang violence.
“I am pleased to be a part of this ground-breaking legislation that combines tough enforcement with prevention,” Seave said. “A key component of this anti-gang bill package focuses on the rehabilitation of vulnerable youth who are often coerced through fear and intimidation into joining gangs. I commend the authors of these bills for their commitment to this important issue.”
In May, the Governor introduced CalGRIP to confront the recent dramatic increase in gangs across the state and their proliferation in suburban and rural areas. There are more than 420,000 gang members statewide. Gangs are responsible for crimes including money laundering, extortion, narcotic production and sales, prostitution, human trafficking, assassinations for hire, theft and counterfeiting. In spite of an overall decrease in crime in most California cities since the 1990s, rates of gang-related violent crime remain steady.
The CalGRIP strategy targets more than $31 million in state and federal funding toward local anti-gang efforts, including intervention, suppression and prevention. The program will double funding for witness protection from the state Victims Restitution Fund to a total of $6 million. CalGRIP will also establish a "High Risk Gang Offender" designation to subject offenders to special parole conditions that limit their ability to recruit children into gangs and limit their access to gang-infested areas. CalGRIP will also develop a list of community organizations that rehabilitate and provide job training to former gang members, as a resource for businesses interested in hiring them. It redirects $1.1 million in uncommitted, discretionary Juvenile Accountability Block Grants for programs targeting at-risk youth.
The Governor’s enacted 2007-08 Budget invests a total of $547 million in after-school programs and another $208 million in school counselors to give at-risk kids alternatives to gang life.
In July, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 271 to give prosecutors more tools in the fight against gangs, AB 104 to give city attorneys the tools they need to pursue gang injunctions and two other anti-gang measures to assist cities in curbing the source of income that funds gang activity, SB 706 and AB 924.
In August, consistent with CalGRIP, Governor Schwarzenegger committed additional California Highway Patrol officers to patrol in Oakland in response to a recent spike in homicides and a request from Mayor Ron Dellums. Under the program, additional California Highway Patrol officers will rotate through 90-day deployments in High Intensity Gang Areas.
Over the past several months the Governor has met with mayors, law enforcement, faith-based and community organizations, local officials and legislators to discuss how communities across the state are fighting gangs and what resources they need to strengthen their success.
Source: California Governor