Opponents: Gang members could face charges for no real crime - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Opponents: Gang members could face charges for no real crime

By JEFF AMY
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Black lawmakers and civil liberties groups are renewing their warnings about proposed Mississippi legislation to enhance penalties for gang members. They say taxpayers will pay for long prison stays under Senate Bill 2868 , a measure they describe as unfair and unduly harsh.

The Senate passed the bill 35-14 last week, sending it to the House for further action. The House had its own bill enhancing gang penalties, but it failed to advance.

The Legislative Black Caucus, meeting Wednesday, raised concerns that gang members could be prosecuted even if they commit no crime besides encouraging someone else to join a gang. They also say the crackdown will unfairly criminalize minority children.

Supporters say Mississippi has a widespread gang problem and that a new law will aid in prosecuting gang leaders.

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