AB 90 Letter of Support Due Today – Gang Databases Accuracy and Fairness

Please fax in an organizational letter today to support AB 90. Increase accuracy, fairness and oversight of shared databases. Fax your letter to (916) 319-3745.

Please e-mail us a copy of your letters and we can also make sure they are registered for the hearing next week – action@youth4justice.org. Thank you!!
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April 11, 2017

Honorable Reginald Jones-Sawyer
Chair, California State Assembly Public Safety Committee
State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0059
Public Safety Committee: Legislative Office Building
1020 N Street, Room 111, Sacramento, CA 94249-0020
FAX: (916) 319-3745

Re: Support for Assembly Bill 90 – Weber – Gang Databases – Accuracy and Fairness

Dear Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer:

INSERT YOUR ORGANIZATION’S NAME is writing to indicate our full support for Assembly Bill 90, which will address accuracy and fairness in the collection and accessing of gang allegations through CalGang and other shared gang databases, including enacting reforms outlined in the 2016 audit of shared gang databases released by the California State Auditor.

Law enforcement agencies throughout California collect personal information to label and track hundreds of thousands of people suspected of gang membership in order to target them for gang suppression. The vast majority of this documentation occurs outside any ongoing investigation of specific crimes. The largest system for accessing this information is the CalGang system, which is now used by over 6,000 law enforcement officers in at least 56 counties. Two recently passed state laws – SB 458 (Wright) and AB 2298 (Weber) – began the process of addressing accuracy, consistency and transparency in regards to shared gang databases by guaranteeing all people the right to be notified if they are designated a gang associate, affiliate or member; the right to challenge their designation at the agency level; the right to appeal an unfavorable decision to the civil court; the right to be notified if they are removed; and the right to have annual data released to the public each year delineating the numbers and demographics (race, gender, age, location) of people added and removed from shared gang databases. AB 90 will enact several additional changes aimed at improving accuracy and fairness in the designation and sharing of gang allegations.

In August of 2016, the California State Auditor released findings of the first ever investigation into the workings and impact of CalGang and the other shared gang databases that feed into it across the state. The audit revealed many concerns, including that: 1. CalGang’s oversight structure is inadequate and does not ensure that user agencies collect and maintain criminal intelligence in a manner that preserves individuals’ privacy rights; 2. The governing entities act without statutory authority, transparency, or public input; 3. There is “little evidence” that the governing entities have ensured user agencies to comply with federal regulations regarding databases; 4. Only 0.2 percent of CalGang’s statewide individual records are reviewed each year; 5. The investigators could not substantiate the validity of numerous CalGang entries; 6. Gang databases were “tracking people who do not appear to justifiably belong in the system;” 7. User agencies that responded to the auditor’s statewide survey admitted that they use CalGang for employment or military-related screenings which is prohibited; 8. User agencies have not ensured that CalGang records are added, removed, and shared in ways that maintain system accuracy and safeguard individuals’ rights; 9. The programming underlying CalGang did not purge all records within the required five-year time frame — some records were not scheduled to be purged for more than 100 years; and 10. Despite the enactment of SB 458 in 2013, many youth and their parents were not properly notified of their designation prior to adding them to CalGang nor afforded the right to contest gang designations.

AB 90 will:

1. Provide law enforcement greater access to useful crime prevention and investigation tools by increasing the accuracy of shared gang databases.

2. Move oversight and administration of the CalGang Database to the State Department of Justice (DOJ).

3. Prohibit the sharing of CalGang with any federal agencies.

4. Place a moratorium on the use of CalGang (including accessing or adding to the database) until the concerns raised by the state audit (released in August, 2016) are resolved.

5. Ensure that a two-year automatic purge of CalGang will be implemented for individuals who do not have contact with law enforcement leading to the updating of their designation.

6. Require that law enforcement in custodial settings follow California law when they participate in shared gang databases.

7. Make small, but important language changes to clean up the law as recommended by California State Judicial Council, based on their experiences in the implementation of SB 458 and AB 2298. (California’s Judicial Council is the policymaking body of the California courts, the largest court system in the world.)

OPTIONAL TO MAKE YOUR LETTER STRONGER: ADD A PARAGRAPH ON YOUR ORGANIZATION AND HOW YOU OR THE PEOPLE/COMMUNITY YOU WORK WITH ARE IMPACTED BY THIS ISSUE.

For all of these reasons, we are in full support of AB 90.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

Again, please e-mail us a copy of your letter and we can also make sure it is included in the bill’s analysis for next week’s hearing.

If you can come to Sacramento next Tuesday, please attend the hearing to speak out in support of AB 90: California State Capitol, Room 126, 8:30AM

Thank you your support!

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