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Since We Last Spoke: Justice Brought to Injunctions

Updates to stories from the Pacific Standard archive.

A federal court order barring the Los Angeles Police Department from imposing gang injunctions has had a huge effect on policing in the city, forcing cops to rethink how to fight gang activity.

Injunctions, as Sam Quinones reported in the January/February 2015 issue of Pacific Standard, are civil court orders that can bar alleged gang members from hanging out together in neighborhoods suspected to be under gang control. Between 2000 and 2017, the City of Los Angeles imposed injunctions against 79 gangs, affecting about 8,900 people. Civil rights groups say the injunctions are discriminatory and ineffective.

When it comes to the latter claim, they have a point: As Quinones reported, those injunctions simply brought gang activity indoors. "Drug dealing continued, and so did other forms of crime, including identity theft," Quinones wrote, adding that some gang activity simply moved to the Internet.

Thanks to recent court rulings, at least 82 percent of the suspected gang members have been released from injunctions. And with city-level crime in overall decline since its peak in the 1990s, it might not be too long before injunctions become a tactic of the past.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Pacific Standard.