Legislation would also use seized assets to fund educational programs in schools
The state Senate is taking action to combat what they say is an uptick in criminal gang activity. On Monday night it passed the Criminal Street Gang Act (S.2410), sponsored by Senator Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn.
For the first time in history, the bill will define street gangs in the state penal statutes, which will give prosecutors more options when charging offenders. The bill would establish anti-gang programs in schools, create an anti-street gang fund, and increase the penalty for any gang related crime.
The legislation also stipulates that 40 percent of forfeitures and seizures of gang assets will be used to fund the criminal gang prevention programs in schools and go towards the new criminal street gang prevention fund.
“Neighborhoods that have been particularly hard hit by gang violence on Long Island and in communities across the state need better resources to help eliminate gangs and the victimization of those in their wake,” said Senate Majority leader John Flanagan. “Senator Golden’s bill takes a comprehensive approach to protect our families by preventing vulnerable young people from being recruited by gangs and strengthening our laws to break up violent and dangerous gang activity.”
The legislation increases penalties and creates new felonies for individuals who benefit from gang activity, participate in gang activity, and recruit new members for gang activities.
In addition, schools would consult with the state Division Criminal Justice Services to implement a model curriculum focused on gang violence prevention. The senate sponsors say it takes a holistic approach to investigating, prosecuting and preventing gang activity in New York.
The bill’s justification states, “The threat of violence and the disruption of public order and safety presented by criminal street gangs has reached a crisis point that threatens the right of residents of this state to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, and physical harm.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured the state last week to announce new funds for anti-gang and anti-gun violence program, including dedicating state troopers to work with local police in targeted areas.
Cuomo and other state officials believe the Salvadoran gang MS-13 is responsible for at least a dozen murders since 2016.
The bill was first introduced in 2009. It has four co-sponsors and nine multisponsors. The legislation was sent to the Assembly where it is sponsored by Codes Committee chair Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn.