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Measure Focuses on Gang Solicitation on School Grounds 

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas Sacco and Linda Greenstein that would protect school children from being recruited into gangs received final approval today and heads to the Governor’s desk.

“Our children’s schools must be safe places for them to learn and grow. Parents and communities should not be afraid that kids will be convinced to join a gang while they should be learning,” said Senator Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson. “Hopefully with stronger laws, we can slow the growth of gangs throughout the state and ensure that our schools are not a breeding ground for unlawful behavior and criminal organizations.”

The bill, S-1479, would increase penalties for those who solicit or recruit for a criminal street gang on school property.  If the offender solicits or recruits a child on school property they could receive from five to ten years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. If the offender solicits or recruits an adult on school property they could receive three to five years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

“Too often, young adults are introduced to the world of gangs while they are still enrolled in school.  Gang involvement often leads to young people dropping out of school and entering a life of crime that results in violence carried out on our streets.  We need to take this threat seriously and address it wherever it occurs,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer.  “Upgrading the penalties for these crimes is critical to addressing this problem.  At the same time, being vigilant by providing alternatives for young adults must also be part of the solution.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly with a vote of 79-0. The Senate passed the legislation last month 35-0. It now heads to the Governor.