To Mayor and City Council, City Attorney Stephen Wiley, City Administrator Jim Armstrong, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara Police Chief Camerino Sanchez:
We, participants in the Pro-Youth Movement, respectfully submit these questions and concerns to the Mayor and City Council, City Attorney’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and the Santa Barbara Police Department. These issues pertain to the proposed gang injunction but also to empowering and supporting our youth in general.
Even as the majority of the participants in the Pro-Youth Movement strongly opposes the gang injunction and wishes it would be withdrawn from the court, our group offers this statement in the spirit of forging solutions to youth violence and making the gang injunction more responsive to our community. We respectfully suggest that the Santa Barbara City Council and the authorities involved consider rejecting the idea of a gang injunction and instead work within the criminal justice system to process and prosecute criminal behavior. That said, we submit the following:
—We ask that the proposed gang injunction be limited to the 30 named individuals in the Complaint. We hope that no one else will be added, especially juveniles. To that end, we ask that paragraph 7 (on page 4 of the Complaint) and paragraph 25 (on page 9) be removed, and that the Complaint expressly state the Order will not be served on any person beyond the 30 named defendants. Also, that it expressly state no juvenile will be served with the Order, and expressly state the Order will only be applied to those of the 30 named defendants who are ordered enjoined by the court.
—We ask for clarity regarding the Opt-Out provision. Does the ability to apply begin when the Order is issued? This is what the Complaint indicates, but we have heard statements that individuals can opt-out now, and that some have already initiated their application to opt-out.
—Also regarding the Opt-Out section: we ask that the authorities acknowledge the unemployment rate in our city and nation, and that factors other than employment be considered. An individual should be given “credit” for volunteering or community service, being enrolled in school, being a homemaker or providing child-care, or for caretaking an elderly parent or family member.
—Also regarding the Opt-Out section: we ask that the defendant not be forced to renounce the gang, but rather simply claim he or she is not an active gang member. That person (and his/her family) may be danger if forced to renounce the gang. We ask that the standard to apply is that a person must not have been convicted of a gang related felony or misdemeanor during the time period.
—We request that a definition of an active gang member be put into the document. We also ask that law enforcement officials be careful in documenting individuals as associating with active gang members. Santa Barbara is a small town and an enjoined individual may be working hard to leave gang life, but may, on occasion, have to speak to people in his/her neighborhood that may be involved in the gang. We ask that people working to extricate themselves from gang life be given every opportunity to succeed.
—We encourage as much clarity as possible as to the terms and conditions if the judge decides to enjoin some or all of the defendants. While some individuals are serving prison or jail time, others are living in our community and are trying to better themselves through programs or seeking an education. We ask that the authorities recognize the people who are engaged in positive activities. Eventually, some of the incarcerated individuals may be released back into the community, and we hope they will be given every chance to integrate back into society.
—Also regarding the terms and conditions: We ask that you limit the “Do Not Associate” provision to an enjoined defendant associating with another or other enjoined individuals. Please make it clear that this clause does not apply to a person participating in programs or meetings, such as CADA or other self-improvement activities. Acknowledge that some people may use public transportation and that there may be unintentional contact with other enjoined individuals on a public bus, for instance.
—Also regarding the terms and conditions: We ask that the Order explicitly allow people to be on school grounds to attend classes as students themselves, or to walk their children to school or accompany them to a school function. The “No Contact with Minors” provision must recognize the enjoined people who are parents, performing parental duties.
—We encourage the City Council to allocate resources and funding to programs and services that support youth and their families. We recognize the services already offered by the City through the CDBG and Human Services grants, the Libraries, Parks and Recreation Department, Teen Programs, and Neighborhood Services. So as to inform the public of these programs, we suggest the City Council hold an annual State of the Children summit. City staff, including PAL, could highlight all the positive efforts undertaken for our children and families.
—We urge the City Council to make it a priority that the City’s police department cultivates a positive relationship with Santa Barbara’s youth. We recognize the work of PAL, the Explorers program, and the ongoing Citizens Academies, in English and Spanish. We urge incentives for our police officers to learn to speak Spanish. Our group would be willing to work with police leadership to create a collaborative effort involving youth service providers, parents, and teens.
—We encourage restorative justice programs, community policing, and creative ways to solve conflicts and transgressions on the part of our youth.
Respectfully Submitted, Juvenile Justice Committee of the Pro-Youth Movement