A trio of southeastern Pennsylvania lawmakers is introducing a bill designed to prevent gang violence before it starts The bill would make it a criminal offense to recruit gang members in Pennsylvania. “It will give law enforcement a tool to stop people from trying to recruit young folks into gang activity,” says Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester/Delaware).
The new offense could be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how the recruitment takes place. Simply soliciting someone to join a gang would be a first-degree misdemeanor. The addition of threats or intimidation would bump the offense up to a third-degree felony, and there would be a sentencing enhancement if bodily harm were involved.
Senator Pileggi tells us the bill was born out of discussions with Chester County DA Thomas Hogan, who is currently prosecuting a dozen teens and young adults for offenses related to the stabbing deaths of two rival gang members.
Listen to Hogan’s comments at this week’s news conference in Chester County:HOGAN
Sen. Pileggi says Pennsylvania’s behind the times on this issue. “We found at least 20-states, including our neighbors in Delaware and New Jersey that have very similar laws in place now.” He says the bill will be up for discussion this fall, and believes it could see action before the end of the legislative session.
Senators John Rafferty (R-Montgomery/Chester) and Ted Erickson (R-Delaware/Chester) are also a part of the legislative push.