Evaluating Federal Gang Bills

The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 and the Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act. expand the current penal code regarding criminal street gangs, resulting in an over-reaching defi nition of both gangs and gang-related crimes. Additionally, they create an entirely new section of penalties pertaining to gang crimes, increasing the enhanced sentences that are already in place. The bills’ provisions call for suppression-heavy strategies, increasing punishments for gang crimes, and expanding the types of crimes that can be categorized as such. Years of research and evaluation have shown that these types of suppression strategies are not the solution to the gang problem. Yet, these bills propose more than $1 billion in duplicative suppression, prosecution, and incarceration of “gangs” and “gang members,” leaving little money for community-based prevention and intervention programs that have been proven to work.