Bill is dubbed by law enforcement opponents across California as ‘The Gang Member Protection Act of 2021’
–The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) is warning Californians of what they call “dangerous legislation” headed for a vote in the state assembly after a bad faith move by the bill’s author.
At the very moment the state is reeling from a dramatic surge in homicides and shootings, many of them gang related, state Senator Sydney Kamlager is trying to slip through AB 333, a bill that CDAA says would dramatically weaken the ability of prosecutors to put violent gang members behind bars.
Dubbed by law enforcement opponents across California as “The Gang Member Protection Act of 2021,” Kamlager’s legislation would limit the charges that prosecutors could bring against violent criminal street gang members, the majority of whom operate in disadvantaged neighborhoods where they use violence and threats of retribution to terrorize victims and silence witnesses.
CDAA had negotiated in good faith what it believed was an agreement to amend the bill so that prosecutors did not have to prove that a gang was “organized,” in order to bring appropriate charges. Gang prosecutors across California had repeatedly advised Senator Kamlager that many violent, criminal street gangs do not operate according to any organizational structure or hierarchy. While CDAA waited in good faith to hear if an agreement had been reached, Kamlager instead took the bill up for a vote where it was approved without benefit of a full and fair debate.
“Sadly, this was a bad faith move, designed to advance this reckless legislation without giving legislators an opportunity to hear how seriously flawed it really is,” said Vern Pierson, president of CDAA. “Prosecutors and law enforcement across California are united in their view that AB 333 is little more than a gift to violent criminal street gangs. It will make our communities even more vulnerable to the predatory actions of gang members,” he added.
CDAA and law enforcement opponents of AB 333 are urging the public to contact their Assembly members and urge them to vote no on AB 333, which could come up for a vote in the state Assembly as soon as Tuesday.
The California District Attorneys Association is a statewide training and advocacy organization representing elected district attorneys, city attorneys with criminal divisions, and more than 3,500 prosecutors.