Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gangs, gangs, gangs...

So, I spent my morning down at the General Assembly attending the House Select Committee on Street Gangs.

It was their first meeting. The House has already passed a bill related to street gang prevention but they chose to study it in the "offseason" anyway because the Senate has sat on the bill.

Anyway, in 1999 the Governor's Crime Commission reported roughly 5000 gang members in NC. By 2004, that number jumped to 8500.

Today, researchers from the Governor's Crime Commission told me that number will easily surpass 10,000, That's shocking on the face of it, but that it may not be in the end.

The researchers believe many police departments and community members did not want to admit there was a gang problem in their community. So, the numbers may reflect a growing trend toward admitting there's a problem. Still, the numbers are likely going to shock many people.

The committee wants the Commission's updated numbers by March.

In the meantime, North Carolina law does not define or make gangs illegal yet. That's what the House proposal aims to fix. It defines a street gang and targets the ring leaders and other crimes that would be defined as gang related.

There are some opponents because some feel it targets young teenagers and minorities.

It will be interesting to see if anything gets done in the short session!

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