Adults in California will now be notified if they’re listed in the state’s database of suspected gang members and affiliates, thanks to a new bill signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill allows Californians to appeal for their name to be removed from CalGang. It also requires law enforcement agencies using the database to submit annual reports to the state Department of Justice.
Earlier this year, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting detailed the myriad problems with CalGang. In some cases, unverified allegations of gang affiliation contained in the database led to criminal charges and inclusion in civil gang injunctions, which restrict someone’s ability to move and associate freely.
Until now, Californians had no way of knowing whether they were in the database or challenge their inclusion. Juveniles have been able to since 2013.
Hundreds of thousands of people are included in the database, which is based on arrest reports, social media posts and other law enforcement intelligence. Information in California’s gang database is accessible to law enforcement in 13 other states that use systems built off CalGang, as well as the FBI; the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to a report by The Intercept, U.S. immigration authorities use information from state gang databases and their own system to identify people for deportation – regardless of whether the gang intelligence is accurate or flawed.