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San Francisco's Proposed Gang Injunction: What Will it Mean, What Are the Problems, and How Will it Work?

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2006
4 pages
After reviewing a proposed preliminary injunction being sought by San Francisco's City Attorney against individuals it believes are members or associates of an alleged street gang called Oakdale Mob, this paper identifies problems with such an injunction and considers the likelihood of its effectiveness.
An injunction is a court order that prohibits a named person or persons from continuing a particular activity named in the injunction. The proposed injunction against the Oakdale Mob aims to stop a public nuisance alleged to be illegal drug sales and possession, possession of illegal firearms, and assault with a firearm. The injunction would impose 11 specific restrictions on the activities of certain individuals identified by the city as gang members or associates. These restrictions would include a 10 pm curfew, a prohibition against associating with any other gang member or associate in public, and other activities already prohibited by law. Gang injunctions present many problems due to the severe limitations they impose on individual rights. One of the most commonly debated issues is injunctions' casting of a broad net that may mistakenly restrict the movements and associations of innocent people who have not engaged in behavior that violates a law. The short-term effects of gang injunctions generally show decreased crime rates in neighborhoods affected; however, over a long period of time (more than 1 year), the effects are marginal or minimal. Injunctions are more likely to have a positive long-term effect if accompanied by the development of constructive community programs for youth who may be attracted to or associated with gangs.