Sen. Jansen's legislation to reduce gang membership approved by committee
LANSING - Legislation to reduce gang involvement and violence across Michigan was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said sponsor Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township.
"My bills are part of a comprehensive approach to help reduce membership in gangs and give kids a better chance to pursue more productive paths for themselves," Jansen said. "Fewer gang members will equal less crime in our communities and fewer young people with lifelong criminal habits that end up sabotaging our communities and families."
Senate Bills 660 and 661 call for a new five year felony for encouraging or soliciting gang membership. The bill also creates a 20 year felony for retaliation against individuals for withdrawing from a gang.
The proposed measures would allow a judge to sentence criminals consecutively for another felony or an attempt to commit a felony from the same incident.
According to Jansen, there is a dramatic increase in gang and youth violent criminal activity in metropolitan west Michigan, as well as across our state and country.
In a one month span last year, 119 self admitted gang members were booked into the Kent County Jail. These individuals pledged allegiance to 33 different gangs. The city of Wyoming in particular has seen an increase in violence, gang graffiti and gang membership.
Communities like Wyoming and their law enforcement agencies, along with the Wyoming Youth Initiative Program, are providing gang awareness training to parents, teachers, residents, businesses, churches, courts and school groups. They also are hosting gang investigator meetings and have instituted anti-gang graffiti ordinances.
"By approving this legislation, we are giving local law enforcement officials and prosecutors the tools they need to address the issue of gangs," Jansen said. "These bills will not substantially increase the number of young people in our prison and jail system, as these changes will also help keep some people out of the system."
SBs 660 and 661 will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Editor's note: A photo of Senator Jansen and local Wyoming Police officials testifying before the committee is available for download from the Senate Majority Photowire at:
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2008
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