TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald Rice and Nia H. Gill to create a 26-member Gangland Security Task Force to examine how to redirect the negative activities of adult and youth gangs to positive community involvement was signed into law today by Governor Codey.
Senator Rice said he wanted the Task Force to study the relationships between gangs, prison inmates and parolees while Senator Gill stressed the need to redirect children away from gang membership to positive community activity.
“Our best hope is to help young children find alternatives to gang life even though their older brothers and sisters may have been involved in the gang culture,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic.
The measure, S-1110, was approved in both houses of the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Citing the murder last year of an inmate by fellow inmates at the Essex County Correctional Center in North Caldwell, Senator Rice said non-gang members and corrections officers are at risk where gangs effectively control jails or prisons.
“We’re all at risk when gangs run the prison system,” Senator Rice said.
While the Gangland Security Task Force will contain representatives from various cabinet members and law enforcement agencies including county prosecutors, chiefs of police, sheriff’s offices and the State Commission of Investigation, it also would include a substance abuse counselor, an expert in the psychology of aggressive behavior, a youth counselor, members of community and faith based organizations and two young people from cities with significant gang-related activity.
The task force will be required to outline a course of action for the State to develop effective intelligence for monitoring gang activity, to deter parolees from returning to or joining up with gangs and to provide meaningful alternatives to gang membership. The task force report to the Governor and the Legislature would be due within four months.