Friday, September 7, 2007

How the Man Gives You Street Cred

The pointy-headed intellectuals alerted me to this story:

The state already has a Web site that's supposed to tell us about sex offenders who live in our communities.

Soon, Albuquerque may have one to tell us who the convicted gangbangers are.

City Councilor Ken Sanchez, who represents parts of Albuquerque's West Side, recently introduced two proposals aimed at giving law enforcement officers new tools to combat gang violence.

One proposal would set up a Web site registry of people convicted of gang-related crimes. Among the information would be what crimes they're convicted of, their legal names and aliases, birth dates and places of employment. Sanchez said the registry would include gang members' addresses for police, but not for the general public....

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White agreed [with the proposal]. "Anything to make the life of a gang member a little more miserable is fine by me," White said....

I followed up on the story. Turns out the proposal passed unanimously:

Gang members are on their way to joining sex offenders and drunken drivers with their own gallery of public shame.

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a pair of ordinances setting up a partially public, online database of gang members convicted of violent crimes....

Mayor Martin Chavez, who must sign the bills to make them law, has supported the registry.

I'm sure that part of the appeal of the law is the comparison of a gang registry with a sex offender registry. The only problem is that sex offenders and gang bangers aren't alike. For example:

The leader of a community group that works on gang intervention called on council members to postpone action. He said gang members might use the registry to find out who is in a rival gang.

Can you picture sex offenders looking in the database to find other sex offenders? That's not really a concern there, but it could certainly happen in the gang front.

In my view, however, the chief problem is the assumption that a gang member will be shamed by being included in the database. Conversely (and perversely), it's very possible that gang members will make extra efforts to get included in the database - sort of a badge of honor, if you will.

"I'm the baddest of the bad, 'cause I got style
And the cops have me listed in their gang banger file"

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