Georgia bill stiffens punishment for gang-related activity: 'we will come after you'
Gov. Kemp issues strong warning: 'Come after our children, and we will come after you'
Georgia lawmakers proposed a bill that would add more prison time to anyone convicted of gang activity, whether involved in a crime or in recruiting minors to join the gang.
"We’re making clear to gangs all across Georgia: come after our children, and we will come after you," Governor Brian Kemp said on Tuesday.
The governor was joined by Attorney General Chris Carr at the Georgia Anti-Gang Network in Atlanta on Tuesday, where local, state and federal partners met to discuss new and ongoing anti-recruitment efforts, including a bill in the state senate that increases penalties for anyone involved in gang activity.
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The bill amends the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act by adding stiffer penalties to those who recruit minors into gangs.
At a minimum, if a person is convicted of a gang crime, they will have an additional five to 20 years tacked onto their sentence to be served consecutively.
If a person is convicted of recruiting minors into a gang, then that defendant will have an additional 10-20 years added to their sentence for a first-time offense, and 15-25 years for a second or subsequent conviction.
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No part of the additional time would be open for suspension or probation unless the judge finds the defendant was not a leader of the criminal activity, did not possess a firearm or dangerous weapon, nobody died or was hurt seriously, or the defendant had no prior felony conviction.
If a judge chooses to suspend the time for any of those reasons, the judge is required to state on the record why.
"Gang activity targeting our schools and our children is particularly egregious and will not be tolerated," Carr said. "Alongside Governor Brian Kemp and members of the General Assembly, we are working to ensure that those who recruit our kids into a life of violent crime are vigorously pursued and aggressively prosecuted. We are proud to be in this fight with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, and we will continue to serve as a force multiplier in our ongoing efforts to keep all Georgians safe."
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Gov. Kemp and Carr announced the indictment of 17 alleged members of the 1-8 Trey Bloods in Barrow County in November 2022.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly engaged in racketeering for the purpose of illegally obtaining money, weapons and property for their gang, a press release read. The activities included murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine, and arson.
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The defendants were also accused of recruiting children through block parties and by arranging an ice cream truck to stop at a local neighborhood.