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March 2007

LEAGUE HAILS GOVERNOR’S ACTION ON GANG PREVENTION BILLS

Within a one month span, Governor Corzine signed into law three bills which are part of the “Fighting Gangs, Protecting Our Youth” gang deterrence initiative.  We are happy with the Governor’s commitment to reducing gang violence through strategies that will protect all residents of communities across the state.

The League’s Gang Prevention and Youth Violence Task Force, chaired by Mayor Bob Bowser of East Orange, is to be commended for ensuring continued focus and attention on these very necessary tools to assist municipalities and law enforcement in the battle against the threat to public safety.  The main focus of League’s Task Force remains that of prevention.  However, we recognize success can only be achieved through a comprehensive approach which also includes law enforcement.  The three laws stated below are testament to this strategy.

Source of Bail Funds
A-2987 (Assemblywoman Watson-Coleman)/S-2012 (Senator Turner) adopted February 21st as Chapter 46 Public Laws of 2007.  Requires a court, upon request by the prosecutor, to conduct an inquiry concerning the source of bail funds when a defendant is charged with certain crimes.  This will make it more difficult for gang members to bring in huge amounts of cash to post bail for their friends without identifying the source of the money.  This is a critical step towards keeping these individuals off the streets.

Community Guns
A-2991 (Assemblymembers Whelan, Watson-Coleman) adopted January 26th as Chapter 24, P.L.2007.  This law makes it a 2nd degree crime to possess, receive or transfer a community gun.  A second degree crime is punishable by a fine of $150,000, imprisonment of five to ten years, or both.  Chapter 24 defines community gun as “a firearm that is transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing the firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.”

Instruction in Gang Avoidance
A-1650 (Assemblymen Barnes, Diegnan and Johnson) adopted January 26th as Chapter 22, P.L.2007.  Requires each board of education to offer elementary school students instruction in gang violence prevention and in ways to avoid gang membership.  This instruction would take place as part of the district’s Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education.  Sample materials will be provided by the Department of Education.

Chapter 22 and 24 became effective immediately upon signing.  Chapter 46 became effective four months from the first day of enactment.

 

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