TRENTON – The Senate today gave final approval to a bill, S-2940, to create a tough, new “gang criminality” statute to authorize trying teenagers as adults, imposing, consecutive and mandatory sentences, and subjecting gang members to racketeering statutes used to prosecute organized crime.
“The level of violence incurred by communities from street gang thugs requires swift and certain punishment,” said Senator John A. Girgenti, a prime sponsor of the bill. “It is proper for some juveniles to be tried as adults when the level of their violence against innocent victims requires incarceration.”
The bill passed 38-0 and now goes to the Governor for enactment.
“The proliferation of gang violence, in our cities and suburbs alike, warrants this strong response,” said Senator Paul A. Sarlo, also a prime sponsor of the bill. “With this bill, gang members could get an extra 10 or 30 years added to a mandatory sentence for a violent offense.”
In addition, the bill would create another new offense of “promoting organized street crime” for those convicted of organizing, supervising or financing criminal gang activity ranging from murder to drug trafficking to sexual assault.
Penalties for promoting organized street crime also would be served consecutively to lesser, underlying offenses.
“These new penalties will provide law enforcement with the tools they need to respond to the violence of street gangs,” said Senator Girgenti. “Communities need to be protected and that often means ensuring that offenders, especially the gang kingpins, are off the streets for the rest of their lives.”
The measure’s inclusion of gangs under existing racketeering statutes is designed to crack down on those who attempt to intimidate witnesses to crimes through terroristic threats, Senator Sarlo said.
“The terms of punishment for racketeering activities require that 85 percent of a sentence be served in prison,” Senator Sarlo said.