In America there are a lot of many gangs such as Pico Rivera and Pico Nuevo and many Americans have fallen victims of them. These gangs terrorize people and the police are very determined to control then but their efforts are hampered by one thing, and this is the fact that the witnesses to particular cases refuse to give their testimonies for fear of retribution by the gang members. My focus on this essay is to discuss on why witnesses fear to testify in courts and how this fear should be allayed.
According to the deputy attorney general Gary Haearnsberger, out of 258 cases that were heard, over 170 of them were murder cases and witnesses refuse to testify for fear of reprisal by the gang. People feel free to explain to the police what they saw but when it comes to testify in the court they refuse. As per the West Covina detective Dan Nalian in his news report on gangs noted hat there are people who witness shooting scenes and even identify the culprits but when they are asked to be witnesses in court they object.
This has even become like a norm in the United States of America that it is not the right thing to testify against any gang for fear that you shall be attacked in retaliation though others refuse to testify due to their criminal related records. A case in point is of 4th March 2005 where a four-man gang tricked a woman claiming that they were his boyfriend’s gang mates only to demand to be directed to them. After they reached where his boyfriend and his two friends were, fierce shooting ensued and a fifteen-year-old boy sustained head injuries while her boyfriend and his partner went unhurt.
This woman clearly identified the four-gang members as the residents of Pico Rivera. According to her eye account, these gang members were: Joseph Aranda who was aged twenty years old and Fernando Aranda aged twenty years. She forwarded their names to the police department and promised that she would testify in court against them. But as time went by she could not fulfill the promise she made to the police officers that she would testify in court against them. After a period of three years later the woman refused to testify claiming she couldn’t remember exactly what happened on that fateful day or even remember who the men in a jeep were.
Not that it was hard to remember what happened but she feared retribution by the gang. (Gonzalez R. 2008) According the Gary Hearnsberger, the Deputy District Attorney, all gang cases have one thing in common and this is that no one is willing to appear in a courtroom to testify of anything because they fear that the gang who would then seel reprisal would mark them. These gangs have their working code that disallows anybody from testifying against any gang group in court. As per this town code, even the gangsters are not allowed to talk with the police or have any relationship whatsoever.
The gang members are very stubborn individuals who are ready to suffer rather than cooperate with the police. They would rather go to jail than reveal their secrets. Many people have been victims of witnesses in courts and these gangs have killed some of them. “Some gang members live up to this code even if it means going to prison. They see that as a badge of honor, Hearnsberger said. What is kind of funny about the gang culture, as much as they completely disregard rules and laws, they will live up to their own. ” (Gonzalez R. 2008)
As the president of the California Gang Investigators put it, people confide to the police on everything that they witnessed but when it comes to making a testimony against the gang members it becomes extremely hard. All people should wake up to the fact that gangs rarely attack law abiding citizens and this includes those who are willing to testify in courts on a particular case but this does not mean that they cannot be attacked. In accordance with the 6th amendment, the accused person is entitled to a speedy and public trial conducted by a jury in the place the cat was committed.
The accused person must be told in no uncertain terms the reasons for the arrest and then be challenged by witnesses with their evidences or what they saw. The witnesses should be escorted by police officers in and out of the courtroom to prevent them from being attacked by the gangs, as this has been the case in the past. No body should be imprisoned if there is no enough evidence given by the witnesses and the defendant should also be allowed to call his/her witnesses and they should be compelled to testify if they refuse.
If the accused persons are capable of representing themselves in court according to the 6th amendment, then they should be given that chance. The defendant is also given a chance to cross-examine the other witnesses who are against them so that the truth could be established. The witnesses from both sides should be protected to allay their fear of retribution. There is nothing that worries the witnesses more than to hear that their families would be attacked just because they tesfied in courts. According to Cmdr.
Karpal, witnesses who refuse to testify in court even after they are provided with proper security they should be charged of court contempt like that woman who witnessed robbery and even identified the gang members but when the time for testifying came, she refused to turn up though she was assured of protection by the police. This woman when she was arrested gave an information that contradicted the information that was recorded when she reported the case by saying that she could not identify the gang members.
It was later established that this woman was an accomplice of one of the members that were standing on Rex road and this is why one of the reason that was given by the police for witnesses’ failure to testify was that some of them have criminal records though to others it is fear of retribution. (Gonzalez R. 2008) Witnesses should also be fully convinced that they would be guaranteed security even if it means being relocated to another area. The Pasadena police is determined to ensure that witnesses are given the protection they deserve.
The Pasadena police are also prepared to arrest those gang members who victimize and intimidate witnesses. If there arises a situation that the gang members are intimidating any witness, then the police would relocate the witness and protect them. For example, the woman who was tricked by the thugs was to be relocated after she reported that those thugs were threatening her. “Her car was vandalized, she was being stared down and having stuff thrown at her. ” (Gonzalez R. 2008)
If witnesses could be assured of maximum security, then the fight against gangs would be won, as the main stumbling block is that witnesses fear to testify for fear of reprisal by gang members though there are others who fear to testify because they have some criminal records. The police has come up with a new plan so that they could offer protection to all those that are willing to testify in courts. They also go for those gang members who intimidate witnesses from testifying against their case. Reference. Gonzalez R. 11th March 2008. Witnesses Fear Retribution from Gang Members. Star News Pasadena, CA.
Courtney from Study Moose