MENENDEZ, PALLONE TARGET GANGS WITH COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) today introduced comprehensive legislation that would work to cut off the spread of gangs and reduce gang-related crime. The Menendez/Pallone Fighting Gangs and Empowering Youth Act of 2007 comes as law enforcement says that gang activity in New Jersey is increasing and becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in recruiting and preying on young people in all our communities. According to a survey by the State Police, the number of gang members has nearly doubled to slightly more than 17,000 in 2005, up from about 10,000 in 2000.
"Gangs are recruiting children as young as 8, 9, and 10 years old. We must give these kids an alternative to gang life, give them the tools to focus on getting a good education, and give families the peace of mind of a safe home and neighborhood in which to raise kids," said Menendez. "Our goal is to go after gangs aggressively by hitting them high and hitting them low -- we can tie their hands with tougher penalties and a bigger police presence, and we can cut them off at the roots by preventing gang recruitment."
"Senator Menendez and I are deeply concerned about the increasing presence of gang violence in communities around New Jersey," Pallone said. "Today, we introduce comprehensive legislation that provides our communities with the resources to prevent the spread of gangs by promoting strong coalitions that can show kids there is a better alternative."
"This initiative provides the mentorship, job training and after-school programs needed to prevent our kids from joining gangs," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), an original co-sponsor of the legislation. "It gives law enforcement officials and local governments the resources, tools and information they need to deter gang violence in our communities. As gang activity increases in New Jersey and across the nation, this bill is a necessary step to combat gang violence in our neighborhoods and on our streets."
The Menendez/Pallone Fighting Gangs and Empowering Youth Act of 2007 is a comprehensive approach to fighting gangs, focusing on 1) prevention and economic empowerment to give young people constructive alternatives to joining gangs; 2) community planning and gang policing resources to help communities fight local gangs; and 3) increased criminal penalties to crack down on those who commit violent crimes as part of gangs.