Could gang injunction list be fast track for city services?

Gang members targeted by The City would have priority over other people to receive The City’s educational, housing and other social service programs, under legislation being drafted by Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Adachi’s proposal is the latest move in a public feud with City Attorney Dennis Herrera over civil gang injunctions. A gang injunction is a legal court order that prevents suspected gang members from participating in certain activities — breaking an imposed curfew, wearing colors associated with gangs and congregating on corners — or face criminal charges.

In 2006, Herrera initiated the first of three existing gang injunctions against a total of 94 alleged gang members.

Adachi has openly criticized gang injunctions at news conferences and other occasions, saying they led to wrongful accusations and that those named in gang injunctions have little recourse to prove they are not an active gang member. The City Attorney’s Office has countered that each alleged gang member was approved for the gang injunction by a judge, based on evidence provided by law enforcement.

Adachi recently faxed a proposal to members of the Board of Supervisors that would give named alleged gang members priority when it comes to receiving city services, including, “city funded economic development, employment, vocation, educational, housing, asset building, mental health, drug treatment and social service programs.”

Giving priority to the alleged gang members creates a “path to redemption” for those who are named in the injunctions, instead of leaving them “high and dry,” Adachi said.

Herrera strongly criticized Adachi’s proposal Wednesday, saying it wasn’t fair to give alleged gang members priority for city services over “such vulnerable populations in San Francisco as foster children and at-risk youth, crime victims, immigrants, seniors, people living with disabilities and others.”

Doing so “sends an irresponsible message to law-abiding youth that the best way to gain local government assistance is to join criminal street gangs,” he said.

Adachi said the proposal is for 94 people, an amount that would not result in the loss of services for others.

Adachi’s proposal also includes establishing a review council to determine whether those named in the injunctions can be removed. That proposal would result in many legal problems, the City Attorney’s Office has told the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said that he hopes the two attorneys come to an agreement, such as how to have a clearer “opt-out” process for those named, adding that “there appears to room for amendment” to the gang injunction.

Gang injunctions have been used in other parts of California since the 1980s, and in San Francisco have come as The City’s homicide rate reached historic highs. In 2007, 98 homicides took place, the highest death toll in 12 years.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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