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September 1, 2005

Still more criticism of House anti-gang bill

In May, the US House of Representatives passed anti-gang bill, HR 1279, which includes many new and increased federal mandatory minimum sentences (background here and here).  That bill, as detailed in posts here and here and here, generated an enormous amount of criticism in newspaper editorials back in May.  And, thanks to this informative post at TalkLeft, I now see that the Washington Post this morning has this potent editorial on the bill.  Here's a snippet:

A bill backed by the Bush administration and already passed by the House would unwisely federalize many local street crimes, stripping them from state prosecution if they could be tied even tenuously to gang activity. The so-called gangbusters bill would also establish mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, which remove much flexibility from sentencing and make little allowance for the circumstances of individual defendants; similar federal and state schemes have proved unfair and harmful....

Bush has proposed spending $150 million over three years to prevent gang involvement, with the funds to be dispersed through grants to faith-based and community organizations that attempt to steer at-risk youths away from gangs and into supportive social programs. The House and Senate have each cut that request but appear likely to appropriate some funds. The success of that program, not just draconian sentencing or increased numbers of federal investigations and prosecutions, will be a critical test of whether the administration's commitment to combating gangs is real or just a rhetorical priority.

September 1, 2005 at 07:35 AM | Permalink


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