Georgia House passes bill with 5 year mandatory minimum for gang recruitment

Lawmakers said gangs are driving violent crime across our state and recruiting kids in elementary and middle school.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Senate Bill 44 passed another hurdle in the Georgia state legislature. On Monday, the House voted 99 to 74 in support of the bill. The bill’s supporters say they aim to keep gang members from corrupting children with steep prison sentences for recruiting someone under the age of 17 into a gang.

Senate Bill 44 would require mandatory minimum sentences for people trying to entice minors into a gang. The measure would require that anyone convicted under Georgia’s sweeping anti-gang law could serve a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 years. That sentence could be reduced or removed if they give up accomplices.

Lawmakers said gangs are driving violent crime across our state, recruiting kids in elementary and middle school, and then leading them down a bad path.

Crime data from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shows that violent crime is increasing- they estimate that cases of murder, robbery, rape, or assault occur every 15 Minutes in the state. Representative Barry Flemming said it’s gangs driving crime.

“Every day we get up and we watch the news and we watch another shooting another drive-by. Let’s look at the most vulnerable people our children and let’s get rid of the people out there recruiting them,” said Flemming.

Representative Tanya Miller a former prosecutor says the sentences are too harsh, especially when prosecuting children recruiting other children to a gang.

“It is too inflexible, it’s too broad, and it doesn’t do not do what it actually needs to be doing to keep our community safer. If we really care about saving our kids, doing what’s best for the most vulnerable among us, we ought to vote no against this bill and start doing the things to prevent kids from joining gangs in the first place,” said Miller.

The bill will now head to the Senate for approval.