Friday, January 20, 2006

Crackdown on gangs

The General Assembly will see new legislation introduced this year to address the problem of gangs in Virginia. However, in 2004, legislation sponsored by now-Attorney General Bob McDonnell was enacted into law that creates a state level RICO statute to allow law enforcement to go after gangs as a criminal enterprise. Essentially, membership in a "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization" is illegal since those organizations, such as gangs, are formed for the purpose of criminal activity. MS-13 isn't a social club.

Gangs: The General Assembly approved an anti-gang legislative package that increases the penalties for gang recruiting and gang-related crimes. SB 320 / HB 1123 creates a Virginia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. The new law allows law enforcement officials to target certain enterprises, such as street gangs, which are organized for the purpose of criminal activity. Under the Virginia RICO Act, participation in such a criminal enterprise is punishable as a felony in state courts, carrying a penalty of five to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Subsequent offenses are punishable as a Class 2 felony, which carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison, plus a fine of up to $2 million. Gangs will also be subject to Virginia's asset forfeiture and seizure laws, so that authorities may confiscate property and proceeds from drug- or gun-running operations, or other criminal money-making ventures. The bill also makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person of any age to recruit another person into a criminal street gang. It makes it a Class 6 felony to force a person to become a gang member through the use or threat of force against that person or another person. In addition, the bill creates a “three-strikes” law for gang activity, dramatically increasing penalties for third gang-related offenses, and allows gang affiliation to be included in pre-sentencing reports in court. Gang-related crimes will also be included in the category of offenses for which there is a presumption against bail.
So, while Sen. Puller's "machete control" bill might be a nice way to tack some extra jail time on to some gang members' prison sentences, a real crackdown on gangs using Virginia's RICO statute is what is called for. Police in many instances know who are members of gangs, but they don't arrest someone for merely being a gang member even though that would be permitted under the RICO statute. Want to know how to clean up the gang problem in Virginia? Arrest them all and put them in jail. More come in to take their place? Arrest them, too. Pretty soon, even the dumbest of gang members will get the message. Here's hoping that General McDonnell will have the chance to use the tool that he helped provide to law enforcement.

5 Comments:

At 1/20/2006 12:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do they need more than one law on machetes? If they're already illegal to carry then why make another one that says you can't brandish them in a threatening way?

 
At 1/20/2006 02:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These bills were introduced on behalf of Prince William Cunty.

The Attorney General has nothing to do with law enforcement.

 
At 1/20/2006 05:20:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Republican solution to all problems: PUT 'EM IN JAIL AND THROW AWAY THE KEY!!!! AHAHAHAHAHJAHAHAHAAH

 
At 1/21/2006 08:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But then be against the funds to investigate, police, prosecute, and incarcerate them because they are against taxes!

 
At 1/21/2006 09:51:00 AM, Blogger Willis said...

Well, they are against taxes, but pro-incarceration. In the end, that makes them pro-debt.

 

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