Success: Overhaul of California Gang Databases

The Urban Peace Institute (UPI) is proud to announce that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed A.B. 90, a bill that mandates a massive overhaul to California’s shared gang database system.  For the past two years, UPI acted as a leading advocate for change to California’s gang databases, which unfairly labels over a 100,000 California residents, including children as young as two years old, as gang members.  

This legislation will initiate a comprehensive purge of individuals unjustly included on shared gang databases and establish Department of Justice and community oversight of the system in the future. Notably, the shared gang databases will no longer be accessed by federal agencies for immigration purposes.

 “Gov. Brown’s passage of this bill acknowledges what we already knew from the California State Auditor report. The system was fundamentally flawed and needed basic oversight,” commented UPI Criminal Justice Program Manager & Staff Attorney Josh Green.

 “The most important result of this legislation is taking the management of the gang database away from local police agencies and putting it in the hands of the Department of Justice,” further adds Staff Attorney Sean Garcia-Leys. The bill mandates the creation of an advisory committee inclusive of community and civil rights leaders who will oversee the continued use of the database, as well as the removal process for individuals still included in the database. The bill also mandates reporting of data about this once secret system.

Following our successful advocacy campaign, UPI will continue to directly represent individuals who are unfairly tracked and labeled within the system, and ensure their removal from the database. We will also protect clients from having unproven gang allegations shared with ICE. These efforts will ensure that California’s once flawed database system does not lead to deportations, and the prevent the devastating separation of families between borders. 

Read more about our Smart Justice work, and from Staff Attorney Sean Garcia-Leys