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Gov. Jerry Brown Sept. 28 signed legislation that requires law enforcement officials to notify adults if they have been placed on a gang database and gives them an opportunity to challenge their inclusion and request removal.

Additionally, AB 2298, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, will require the state department of justice to release data annually on how many people are added and removed from shared gang databases by race, age, gender and jurisdiction.

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 targeted and ongoing investigation of specific crimes. The largest system for accessing this information is the CalGang system, which is now used by more than 6,000 law enforcement officers in at least 58 counties.

According to Shiu-Ming Cheer of the National Immigration Law Center, there are numerous challenges with how the database operates including lack of clear guidelines about what criteria are used to include a person on the database, as well as lack of clarity about how to be removed from list. Consequently she said that a review by state auditors several years ago found that there were 42 people under age 1 included on the database who “declared” that they were gang members.

As well as subjecting individuals to gang suppression, gang allegations can fast track people for immigrant detention and deportation, negatively affect access to immigration relief such as (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) DACA, subject people to harsh gang enhancements in court, and reduce access to jobs and other resources that are valuable tools to de-escalate conflict and prevent future violence, provide people with the supports needed to heal from trauma, and to help people transition from the dangerous, underground economy of the streets into education, legal employment, and civic engagement. A recent audit released by the State of California shows that shared gang databases are overly broad, horribly inaccurate, and illegally share information threatening individuals’ privacy and opportunities.

In addition to law enforcement officials, Cheer said employers and other entities can use the database and possibly deny a person on the list employment or even housing.

There have also been incidents where individuals on the list who invited to the White House were denied permission to attend an event.

Cheer said approval of the measure by Gov. Brown is just the first step in the process. Other issues that need to be addressed are a better understanding of how long people are kept on the database and how they can be removed.