Advertisement

CUTTING THE GANG TIES

Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

The Gang Violence Suppression Unit of the Orange County Probation Department was established in April, 1987, and is funded by a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice and Planning. Subjects who have been placed on probation are referred to the program by the courts or police departments. Individuals are categorized as gang members by the unit if they fall under any three of the following eight criteria: They admit they are gang members; They have tattoos that demonstrate their loyalty to a gang--for instance, having the gang’s name tattooed on an arm; They are in pictures with other known gang members; They have relatives who are known gang members; They continuously associate with known gang members; They are identified as part of a gang by another member; They write about their gang--for instance, by writing its name in graffiti or mentioning the gang in a letter; There is any other official documentation showing gang affiliation, such as arrest reports or field interview cards from the police, or any reports received from one of the unit’s institutions (that is, the remedial schools listed below). According to unit supervisor Tom Wright the unit operates under a “vertical supervision” plan. This means: Gang members are released from the program only after demonstrating they have severed all gang ties or if they are committed to an institution; Probation officers will take whatever steps necessary to eliminate a gang member’s free time as a means of reducing their opportunities to contact other members; Officers will visit the subject at least once each week to ensure they are following all rules. Gang members on probation must adhere to the following rules; any violations will make them subject to immediate arrest. Specifically, they: Are subject to a daily 8 p.m. curfew. Are not to associate with other gang members. Are subject at any time to search and seizure. Are prohibited from possessing firearms or any other weapon. Are prohibited from possessing alcohol or narcotics. Must undergo regular drug testing and must provide urine samples. They may be tested up to three times per week, but this could be less, depending on the individual. Are not allowed to be in specific areas known by authorities to be frequented by gangs. Are prohibited from being in the company of anyone, gang member or otherwise, possessing a firearm or narcotics. Must attend school. Since they have generally been expelled from outside schools, the subjects are sent to special court-run remedial schools. The schools are Horizon, with branches in Anaheim and Santa Ana; Crest in Garden Grove; Summit in Santa Ana, and Rio Contiqua, inside the Youth Guidance Center in Santa Ana. Horizon also operates a mobile unit for the benefit of some subjects (such as those who work full-time) who are unable to attend the other schools. This unit can be set up at locations where the subject can conveniently drop off homework and pick up new assignments. Since the program’s inception, 271 gang members have been referred to the unit by other probation departments or by the courts. Here’s a more detailed look at those involved: AGE: Younger than 14: 3 Age 14 23 Age 15 60 Age 16 89 Age 17 76 18 or older 20 TURNED OVER TO UNIT ON: First offense 93 Second offense 53 Third offense 41 Fourth offense 84 TYPE OF CRIME: Homicide 1 Forcible rape 1 *Assault 60 Robbery 22 Drug related 73 Burglary 19 Theft 62 Arson 3 **Other 30 *Includes assault with a deadly weapon, simple assault, assault and battery and aggravated assault. ** All weapons offenses 309 (***) gang members have been committed to local facilities. These facilities are the Youth Guidance Center in Santa Ana, Los Pinos Forestry Camp near Lake Elsinore, the Joplin Youth Center in Trabuco Canyon and the Definite Commitment Program within the Juvenile Hall in Orange for high-risk subjects (i.e., those who may escape or are prone to violence). 11 have been committed to the California Youth Authority. ***Some of the 271 individuals who have been referred to the unit have been turned over to local facilities more than once. The exact number, however, cannot be determined. Source: Orange County Probation Department, Gang Violence Suppression Unit


Advertisement
Advertisement