Senate Approves $1 Billion To Fight Gangs

Friday, September 21st 2007, 6:52 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate Friday agreed to devote $1 billion over the next five years to combat street gangs and protect witnesses of gang violence.

Legislation approved by voice vote also establishes new federal crimes to cover gang recruitment and illegal acts by gangs, and increases penalties for gang-related crimes.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sponsor of the bill with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was aimed at ``providing a federal hand of assistance to those on the front lines'' in the war against street gangs.

The measure includes approval of $411 million over five years for programs to keep young people out of gangs, with almost half of that going into areas that have a high intensity of gang activity.

It authorizes $270 million over three years for witness protection needs and creates a new federal crime of interference with witnesses in state court proceedings.

Feinstein and Hatch said that their bill reflects statistics that at least one-fourth of all homicides in major cities are now gang-related and that active gang members have grown from some 250,000 in 1991 to 800,000 today.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has introduced a companion bill in the House.