The University of California Police Department along with the state of California, the University of California, Santa Barbara County and Sheriff Bill Brown and California Highway Patrol of Santa Barbara are all facing class-action lawsuits for their alleged non compliance in enforcing the laws set forth in California Penal Code Section 851.6.

The law in question requires that any arrest record in which a person is detained but not charged with any offense be deleted. Attorney William Makler, who is working on the lawsuit against the UC, said incidents in which suspects are booked into county jail — regardless of whether the suspect is charged with a crime — are reported to the California Department of Justice. This information ends up in federal law enforcement databases such as the FBI criminal index and is widely available to a number of entities including employers, government agencies and the media.

Despite several attempts to contact various officers, the UC Police Department could not be reached for comment.

According to Makler, the difference between having an action classified as an arrest or a detention on a student’s record can be extremely detrimental.

“Arrests themselves do tremendous damage to somebody’s general reputation as a law-abiding citizen,” Makler said. “They can really harm someone’s earning potential over the long term; they can in a very real sense make people unemployable.”

Disorderly conduct — commonly referred to as public intoxication — is the most common offense to be misrepresented with regard to the lawsuit, according to Makler, who added that the idea of being thrown into the “drunk tank” is mischaracterization and has far more serious consequences than many students realize.

“The drunk tank is, in this instance, the Santa Barbara County Jail. You can’t go there or be housed there for any length of time without submitting to the booking process. So those same people are being booked into the county jail for a criminal offense, their picture is being taken, they’re being fingerprinted [and] those records are being disseminated throughout state and law enforcement bureaus,” Makler said. “That person, by the very occasion, is being tarnished with a criminal arrest and very arguably has been deemed a criminal by the action.”

Passed in 1975, the law was created in an attempt to end discrimination towards those with criminal records when nothing materialized from the arrest.

Fourth-year political science major David Gomez said he appreciates that Makler is taking the initiative to make sure the law is enforced and that students’ reputations are being upheld.

“I can’t say I am shocked to hear that the police are not complying with the law in regards to how they process detainees,” Gomez said. “Perhaps this lawsuit is the only way in which they can be held accountable for damaging the records of people unjustly.”