Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Politics and Gangs: Proposition A

Posted on: October 16, 2008 at 8:59 a.m.

Proposition A will be on the ballot in Los Angeles on November 4. It will be an interesting proposition for Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, regular citizens and suspected gang members. Rather than simply arrest every gang member they can find, the city is attempting to stop the growth of gangs. The measure, which needs two-thirds support to take effect, is a $36-a-year tax on every piece of property in the city to raise $30 million a year to fund gang prevention and intervention programs.

Two years ago, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton made gang suppression their top priority, developing a top 10 list of the most wanted gangsters and gangs in the city. It resulted in high-profile arrests and a startling drop in gang crime. The most recent figures released by Bratton showed gang homicides have dropped to 119 from 164 a year ago and overall gang crime is down 19 percent. Part of that is enforcement, but officials also credit the new emphasis on diversion programs.

For years, Los Angeles criminal attorneys have tried to encourage the city not to simply throw accused or suspected gang members in prison. Giving them options instead would be a more effective way to slow down the crime rate.

Villaraigosa gained control of the anti-gang programs July 1, and his office has been going through requests for proposals to begin the new effort. One program funded this past summer, Summer Night Lights, offered activities at selected city parks to keep kids from joining gangs. Proposition A is designed to make sure such programs have an ongoing source of revenue, Hahn said.

The Los Angeles Police Department estimates there are 400 gangs and 38,000 gang members within the City of Los Angeles. Gang violence results in loss of life and negatively affects living conditions in many parts of the City.

Some of the causes of the growth of gang violence across the City are the lack of job and training opportunities and other healthy productive options for youth. Currently, the City cannot adequately fund programs and activities that help young people develop employment skills and provide positive alternatives to gangs that are necessary to end gang violence.

Tagged as: gang allegations


Diane Srsen (Comm 174) on October 21, 2008 at 3:05 a.m. wrote:

Proposition A is a fantastic idea and Im so glad to hear that they are trying to take a different approach of handling gang violence. Instead of just throwing gang members in jail and hoping they will learn their lessons, which is usually not the case, and prevent repeat offenders. We spend way to much money sending an inmate to jail, and as a tax payer I'd rather see my money going to something more effective in the long run. Showing kids that there are so many other options available to them to keep them off the streets and following their elders is exactly where we need to start. So many gang members feel like that is the only option they have in life, and therefore need to take that path. Funds that provide a good education, allow for diverse sports, and interaction with other kids that are in the same position will definitely keep them off the streets. If we as a society can help while they are still younger and get them involved, then the long run effect will be well worth it.

Christine Paik COMM 174 on October 19, 2008 at 7:43 p.m. wrote:

'For years, Los Angeles criminal attorneys have tried to encourage the city not to simply throw accused or suspected gang members in prison. Giving them options instead would be a more effective way to slow down the crime rate.' This reminds me of the argument that has been made for rehabilitation programs within prisons. In that situation, it has been advised that prisoners are often unlikely to be reformed through their time in prison because generally it has been the social circumstances under which they've been raised that they have the mental, emotional, and social tendencies they do which lead to criminal activity. It is only with rehabilitation programs that criminal activity can be reduced even when prisoners are released. I think this same logic applies here--just throwing people in jail will not lower gang crime activity because once they are released they would be likely to go back to their old ways if they have not been educated to know the different options they have in life. In this particular suggestion though, the logic goes one step ahead and offers this interventive step of 'rehabilitation' even prior to any arrests being needed because special programs and recreational options would be offered so that they would be chosen by potential gang members to participate in, rather than gang activity. I think this will be an excellent preventive measure and is derived from good logic. It is also a good financial investment in terms of the money it could save that would otherwise be spent on arrests, trials, searches, and so on.

Stephen Kim on October 16, 2008 at 6:28 p.m. wrote:

(Comm. 174 with Gorin) 'Rather than simply arrest every gang member they can find, the city is attempting to stop the growth of gangs.' I think this proposition is a great idea, why did it take so long to think of? If you want to kill a weed, you don't kill it by cutting off its leaves because it will just grow new leaves. You have to poison and kill it at it's root, so that it never has a chance to grow back again. Until now our city has not wanted to fund programs, clubs, sports teams, etc. to attract teenagers who are potentially future gang members. Instead, they thought the easier and cheaper strategy was to arrest every gang member on the street. Oh how much greater of a cost that is! It costs $40,000 to keep ONE inmate in jail for ONE year. It is projected that by 2012-2013, $15.4 billion will be spent on incarcerating Californians, while only $15.3 billion spent on educating them. That's a serious sign that we need to rethink gang prevention. Thirty million dollars is pocket change compared to the $15.4 billion it costs to keep gang members in jail. Let's kill it at it's root.

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