Issue: Gang Prevention and Deterrence Legislation
Proposed federal legislation would increase the federal role in controlling gang-related crime.
No formal position
Over the last few years, a number of bills have been introduced to prevent and deter gang activity. Major proponents of such legislation include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) and Representatives Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
On 9/21/07, the Senate passed S 456 to create new federal penalties to deter and punish recruiters and members of street gangs affecting interstate commerce. The bill would authorize more than $1 billion over five years to prevent and crack down on gang violence. S 456 is the result of years of effort by cosponsors Senators Feinstein and Hatch. Under the bill, $412 million would be authorized over five years for gang prevention and intervention efforts, including for newly designated “high-intensity interstate gang activity” areas. An additional $270 million would be directed toward witness protection. The legislation would create several new federal crimes including conspiring to commit gang crimes that occur in or affect interstate or foreign commerce, interstate interference with witnesses in state court proceedings, and recruiting criminal street gangs whose activities affect interstate or foreign commerce. A criminal street gang would be defined as a group of at least five members, each of whom has committed at least one “gang crime” as defined in the Act. Collectively they must have committed at least one serious violent felony. A companion bill (HR 3547) was introduced in the House by Adam B. Schiff (D-CA).
To complement the above-described bills, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act [“Youth PROMISE Act” – HR 3846] on 10/16/07. It would authorize the appropriation of over $40M over 5 years to be administered by OJJDP to provide for and promote evidence-based best practices related to juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity prevention and intervention to help build families and gang-free communities.