The System Is Guilty As Hell

“The data shows that the Chicago Gang Database is a target list of Black and Brown people who will be the victims of immigration raids, of incarceration and criminalization, and further policing” – Janae Bonsu, Black Youth Project 100

What is the Gang Database?

“Gang Database” is the name used for the maintenance of information about an individual’s suspected relationship to gangs maintained by the Chicago Police Department (PCD). This information is stored as part of the Strategic Subject List (SSL) and the Chicago Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) database.

CPD’s Gang Database is compiled using 18 separate forms, records, and systems of records, with no unified, standalone “gang database.” In 2019, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) found evidence that CPD’s Gang Arrest Cards were of poor data quality and that there were inadequate controls on the entry of information (report). CPD shares its collection of information with over 500 external agencies, including immigration and criminal justice agencies, with no agreements with those external agencies governing access to and use of the data.

The System Cannot be Reformed

CPD’s Error-Filled Database by Danbee (Deb) Kim

Of the 500,000 Gang Arrest Cards recorded, 95% of the individuals designated as gang members were Black and Latinx, with 91.3% of all individuals being male.

graphic saying 33,000 Chicago Youth have been labeled as gang members

According to OIG’s Report:

  • 90 Gang Arrest Cards had dates of birth entered as prior to 1901, making those individuals 117 years old, 80 GAC’s listed an individual’s age as 0
  • 15,174 individuals had no specific gang designation, despite being listed as gang members
  • 15,648 individuals were designated as gang members without a reason provided
  • The CPD Gang Database has someone as young as 9 years old, and as old as 75

CPD does not provide notification to individuals that have been designated as gang members, and there is no way of contesting, repealing or denying false entry.

Being in the Gang Database Can Mean: 

[September 11, 2018] The True Input and Output of Chicago’s Gang Database by Barbara Galeano (Download)

  • Enhanced surveillance by CPD or other law enforcement
  • An effect on an individual’s bail & bond, sentencing, sanctions, probation, prison, and parole
  • Being at risk of deportation and immigration raids/obstacles to obtaining relief through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or U-Visas
  • Being rejected for employment opportunities
  • Being denied professional licenses, such as childcare
  • Being ineligible for bond for minor offenses
  • Being targeted by police officers for harassment