A few years ago, Santa Barbara imposed a gang injunction, which is a restraining order against a group of individuals. Injunctions request the court to rule a gang’s public behavior a nuisance and ask for special rules directed toward its activity. They supposedly help address neighborhood gang problems before the members can commit felony crimes, but people questioned its motive and efficacy.
In 2014, Judge Colleen Sterne ruled against the necessity of a gang injunction, which the police department had been pursuing for 3 years. In the 32-page opinion she released afterward, she found the arguments for gang injunctions to be unpersuasive. Likewise, while Santa Barbara continued to have rival gang issues, their behavior didn’t constitute a genuine problem. The law requires their conduct to be a substantial and unreasonable nuisance before an injunction can be issued.
The judge has particularly good instincts. Juvenile gang crime has been dropping in Santa Barbara since 2007. Since that year, juvenile referrals to the county’s Probation Department have been decreasing in all areas of Santa Barbara County.
As of late 2015, the number of reported gang incidents in Santa Barbara has dropped 5-fold in the previous 5 years. Likewise, the incidences of tagging have plunged. People credit the number of programs in place to assist and occupy teens and young children. The city council of Santa Barbara approved spending $67,000 to help fund the South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs for another year, which allows juveniles serving probation to attend classes and acquire job skills.
In 2010, there were 737 juveniles with gang terms and conditions, and in 2014, those numbers went down to 313. If efforts are continually focused on improving the lives of youth in Santa Barbara and helping those convicted of crimes seek job skills to help them avoid criminal activities in the future, the numbers are likely to continue falling, even without the assistance of the gang injunction sought by the Santa Barbara Police Department.
If you’re facing a criminal charge, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our skilled Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys. Let us help defend your rights and freedom.
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