Legislation Aimed at Combating Gangs
According to Delaney (2013), as national crime rates are declining, gang related activities are increasing. Criminal gangs have been a menace to the safety and security for a long period of time. The gangs are characterized by violence, theft, arson, drug trafficking, and illegal business run by cartels. Delaney (2013) defines gangs as groups with a formal organization structure, , identifiable territory and leadership, recurrent interaction, and engagement in criminal activities. Run and operated by criminals and youths who have malicious intentions, criminal activities of these gangs are on the rise in every state of the US. Despite a number of legislations that have been proposed, passed and implemented, the activities these gangs participate in are still rampant. One such legislation is the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005 proposed by Congressman J. Randy Forbes.
The Gang Deterrence and Community Protection
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On May 11, 2005, the House of Representatives passed the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act, also called the Gangbusters Bill. The legislation was proposed by J. Randy Forbes from Virginia and supported by a vast majority of representatives. Law enforcement organizations and the public also supported the enactment of the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act. The increased activities of gangs had a direct impact on civilians who supported criminal activities. Burglary, killings, rape, and drug cartels that these gangs are engaged in necessitated passing a law that will protect civilians from such illegal and inhumane activities (Murder, violence, kidnapping, theftthey come at a high cost to our communities and families, 2011). The Gang Deterrence Act aimed at identifying high intensity gang areas and funding law enforcement agencies to reduce a number of gang activities in such areas. The task was to define gang crimes while specifying punishments for criminals. In a period of five years, the bill had a budget of 250 million US dollars that were used to create and fund street gang enforcement in local, state and federal law authorities (United States House Committee, 2005). Additional 37.5 million US dollars were used to hire more assistant attorneys to prosecute gang-related crimes. The law enforcement agencies are to be provided with technology, resources and training for law enforcement. The Gang Deterrence Act aimed at prosecuting gang members with no consideration of age and increasing the severity of sentencing for participating in gang activities to 30 years imprisonment for aggravated sexual abuse, kidnapping and maiming. In the cases of bodily injuries experienced by a victim, gang members are to be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and to10 years for participating in any gang activity. Those found guilty of murder are to be sentenced to life imprisonment. The regulations of the bill are aimed to improve gang-related prosecutions in the high intensity gang regions, break the connections and underground activities of gangs through providing better tools and resources for law enforcement agencies, and tough sentences for gang criminal activities. The effects of the law on the public and gangs are meant to restore peace and security in the community while confining criminals who bring damage to the society. On its early stages, the Gang Deterrence Act faced opposition in Senate from African-American and Hispanic representatives who viewed the bill to be discriminating against their population. They claimed that a large number of African-Americans and Hispanics were members of gangs due to the poor living standards. The public and law enforcement agencies have adopted the laws that are active in 30 states (Murder, violence, kidnapping, theftthey come at a high cost to our communities and families, 2011).
Enactment and Effects
Since the time that the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act was passed by the House of Representatives, the law still faces many challenges in ensuring that gangs are removed from streets. However, the bill has been effective in bringing criminals to justice in different states with criminal records. New technology and surveillance systems have been made available to law enforcement organization. Training was offered to their personnel in a bid to combat gang activities. The named measures, however, have not had a good effect in reducing gang activities and rates. The bill is facing challenges in establishing reasons for the increased number of gangs despite the efforts put forth to curb the gangs. Most of the methods the Gangbusters Bill proposes in dealing with gangs are ineffective since corruption rates are on the increase in the law enforcement sector and political arena. As a result, a politician may gain prosperity and wealth through supporting gang related activities. Consequently, these gangs are given protection from the politicians. The major challenge that the Gangbusters Bill faces is prosecution that it supports youths and underage teenagers who are associated with gangs. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NACCP (National Association of Child Care Professionals), ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have challenged the functionality of the bill. The mentioned organizations object the implications the Gangbusters Bill has had on the lives of youths participating in gang activities.
The increased rates of gang activities in the United States have crippled advancements that the state and federal governments might have proposed. The enactment of the Gangbusters Bill has made slight alterations in the fight against criminal gang activities. More legislation has been proposed to help reduce the menace that affects the public while making the young generation participate in criminal activities. Though facing many challenges from various private organizations, the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005 has made steps in combating gang criminal activities in some states of the US.