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View other events for the week of 6/17/2009
RALLY With Alliance Against Gang Enhancements
Date Wednesday June 17
Time 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Location Details
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY COURTHOUSE
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Event Type Other
Organizer/AuthorAlliance Against Gang Enhancements
Emailsantacruzalliance [at] gmail.com
Rally on the Santa Cruz Courthouse steps to educate the public about the realities of gang enhanced sentences. They broadly criminalize our youth and do not deter future gang crimes. They result in HUGE costs to the taxpayers and suck the life out of the community, overcriminalizing youth in marginalized communities.

SUPPORT OUR YOUTH!
SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES!
RALLY AGAINST UNFAIR & OVERCRIMINALIZATION OF YOUTH!
Join the Alliance Against Gang Enhancements

WEDNESDAY JUNE 17, 2009
8-10AM
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY COURTHOUSE
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA

CONTACT: santacruzalliance [at] gmail.com
831-238-5290

We seek to educate Santa Cruz about the reality behind gang enhanced sentences. Gang enhanced sentences are on the rise in Santa Cruz County. They are destructive, unfair and cost too much money without solving the problem or even getting to the root causes. They do not deter gang crime, in fact they sensationalize the issue to the public.

Richard Bentancourt will go on trial this week in Santa Cruz for the FOURTH time on the same charges. Although the past 3 trials have resulted in a dismissal, a hung jury and a discovery violation, the District Attorney INSISTS on continuing to spend taxpayers money and cause great stress to the defendants and their families, in an unrelenting attempt to prove a “gang crime.” The defendants are facing years in prison for a street fight resulting in no serious injuries to the victim.

A “gang enhancement” or allegation of involvement in a criminal street gang can transform a simple misdemeanor charge, like shoplifting or trespassing, into a felony crime with consequences that include prison time and juveniles being tried as adults.

The law gives an extremely vague definition of a street gang. This opens the door to abuse of the law's intent. Many youth who have had contact with the criminal justice system are frequently charged with a gang crime and given a “gang enhanced sentence.”

These sentences can become grossly unfair because gang enhancement laws impede the maturity process of adolescent youth. By confining them to a regressive, negative and long term environment of prison, they never have the chance to rehabilitate.

Family structures are destroyed by the extraordinarily long sentences and stress. Gang enhanced sentence can make a victimless crime lead to a longer sentence than one for first degree murder.

Gang crimes actually compromise a small percentage of violent crimes in the US. Violent crime has actually decreased. Gang enhancements have not deterred crime. There is no evidence of this. Gang enhancements serve to scare the public into supporting draconian sentences that overcriminalize youth.

Gang member identification, leading to a gang enhanced sentence is often based on loosely defined criteria which is broad in nature and encompasses youth not necessarily involved in serious gang activity. Gang enhancements are also applied to crimes that are not related to gang membership at all, but based on the criminal history of the accused person. For example, a fight over a personal issue may result in a gang enhanced sentence, even through the fight had nothing to do with gang activity.

These sentences and the long time District Attorney’s spend prosecuting these cases, result in astronomical costs to the taxpayer in terms of prosecution and enforcement. It can cost well over $1 million dollars to send an 18 year old away for 20 years, simply because of the perceived “intent” of the crime. Many gang crimes are done during adolescence, it is adolescent, immature behavior. The extreme penalties impede the maturation process and cost the taxpayers much more than the cost of prevention and intervention.

For more research, news and excellent analysis, read the Justice Policy Institute’s report entitled: “Gang Wars.”
http://www.justicepolicy.org/content-hmID=1811&smID=1581&ssmID=22.htm

RALLY WITH US ON JUNE 17, 2009!
Added to the calendar on Monday Jun 15th, 2009 2:47 PM
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