Prosecutors remove hundreds from county gang lists

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SAN DIEGO -- The names of hundreds of people previously listed on San Diego County civil gang injunction lists have been removed from the court orders, prosecutors announced Monday, as part of an effort to reduce obstacles for those who have not re-offended or engaged in recent criminal or gang activity.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office reviewed 799 people whose names have appeared on county gang injunctions dating back to 1997 and removed 332 people from the lists, according to the DA's office.

The injunctions, which function as restraining orders restricting gang members from participating in criminal activity within a particular area, were filed in several county cities in response to increased gang activity.

However, District Attorney Summer Stephan said Monday that her office reviewed the lists and determined that hundreds of people qualified for removal due to a lack of recent criminal and/or gang history.

"People who are genuinely taking steps to be a lawful, contributing member of our community shouldn't be punished by a civil court order that might be stopping them from getting a job, connecting with their relatives or moving on with their lives," Stephan said. "We worked closely with our law enforcement partners to identify people who might qualify for removal while at the same time making sure we're continuing to protect the public from those who still engage in gang-related crimes and activities."

To qualify for removal from the lists, a person must:

  • not have a conviction for a violent felony over the past 10 years;
  • remain out of custody and have no criminal convictions for the past five years (excluding minor traffic violations);
  • have not participated in any activity "that demonstrates continued loyalty to, or membership in a criminal street gang for the past five years.

In total, 42 percent of people across 20 injunction lists were removed, with the lists covering former members of a dozen different gangs, according to the DA's office. Of the 332 people removed, 266 were removed for lack of gang or criminal activity, while 66 were removed due to life imprisonment, deaths, or for apparently having left the county's jurisdiction entirely.

"Every law enforcement agency in the county wants individuals to disassociate themselves from the gangs and the activity that landed them on the civil injunctions," Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter said. "Police departments across the county are joining the DA in being proactive in removing individuals from these injunctions and we hope other gang members see this as a motivation to end their gang affiliation and become a productive member of their community. We want nothing more than to keep our youth from joining gangs in the first place."

Those who believe they qualify for removal from the injunction lists can submit a form for review on the District Attorney's website.

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