Schiff Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Gang Violence

Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to halt gang violence.  The Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act (H.R. 3547) would provide new resources for community-based gang prevention and intervention activities.  The bill would also revise criminal laws and penalties to give gang prosecutors new tools in the fight against gang violence. The legislation will target resources to communities with severe gang activity and includes more than $1 billion in funding for law enforcement, prevention, and intervention programs.

“As a former federal prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the damage gangs cause in our community,” said Schiff. “Significantly, this bill takes concrete steps in fighting gang violence by increasing federal support for proven gang prevention efforts to keep kids out of trouble. But equally, for those who do engage in gang violence, the bill will give law enforcement an enhanced ability to crack down on gang offenders and increase penalties for those gang members who terrorize our communities.”

“Representative Schiff’s gang prevention bill would help not just the communities he represents, but towns and cities around the country that are struggling to deal with gangs,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).  “Democrats are committed to helping local governments keep our communities safe.”

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, crime in Los Angeles has decreased for the last five years.  However, gang-related crime is on the rise. In 2006, gang-related crime increased by 15.7 percent citywide.  That translates into 1,046 additional gang-related crimes in 2006 from the previous year. Those crimes include additions in homicides, attempted homicides, felony assaults, and robberies.

The Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act would authorize over $1 billion spread out over five years for prevention and enforcement efforts.   Much of the funding would be directed toward the High Intensity Gang Activity Area (HIGAA) program.  This program facilitates cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement in identifying, targeting and eliminating violent gangs in areas where gang activity is particularly prevalent.  Half of the HIGAA funding, or $250 million, would be specified for community-based intervention and prevention initiatives focused on at-risk youth.  Additional funding is also included in the bill for education and employment programs targeted at former gang members to help them attain a GED, develop job skills, and be placed in an apprenticeship.

The Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act would give gang prosecutors new tools to combat gang-related crime by:

  • Creating new criminal gang offenses to prohibit recruitment for street gangs and target gangs who recruit children;
  • Enhancing penalties for repeated violent gang crime offenses;
  • Establishing penalties for violence committed in drug trafficking related offenses; and
  • Enacting various other changes to federal criminal code to more effectively deter and punish violence by criminal street gangs and other violent criminals.

Rep. Schiff has long fought to end gang violence dating back to his days as a federal prosecutor and State Senator.  While serving in the State Senate, he introduced landmark anti-gang legislation, called “The Schiff Cardenas Crime Prevention Act of 2000,” which for the first time invested as much in the prevention of crime as in the suppression of crime.  The bill introduced today improves upon anti-gang legislation that Rep. Schiff introduced earlier this year, and incorporates additional input from a broad coalition of organizations interested in gang crime prevention.

Rep. Schiff was appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in the 110th Congress and is a member of its Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel.  He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.