In our January/February cover story “The End of Gangs,” Sam Quinones reported on a little-noticed change in Southern California’s gang activity: Robbery and assault numbers have plummeted as gangs shift their operations behind closed doors and online. But, as the New York Times Magazine reported in May, the justice system has been slow to drop some of its more aggressive enforcement tactics in the area. The magazine profiled Dr. Jesse De La Cruz, a former Central California gang member who is now an expert witness helping defense attorneys push back against “gang enhancement”—a sentencing classification, often pursued by prosecutors, that increases prison sentences based on a defendant’s suspected gang involvement. The problem: Visible tattoos, baggy clothes, and gang-affiliated colors, often just fashion statements in the low-income minority communities around Los Angeles, are still seen by law enforcement as signs of gangsterism.
Since We Last Spoke examines the latest policy and research updates to past Pacific Standard news coverage.
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