WHEREAS, despite significant improvements over the past 10 years following passage of the crime bill and creation of a strong federal-local partnership, violent crime and drug trafficking remain pervasive problems at the national, State, and local level; and

WHEREAS, the crime rate is exacerbated by the association of persons in gangs to commit acts of violence and drug offenses; and

WHEREAS, The United States Conference of Mayors held a National Summit on Gangs on April 27 at which mayors, police chiefs, law enforcement experts and federal officials discussed a comprehensive agenda needed to address the continuing and changing nature of gangs and gang-related crime in America; and

WHEREAS, gangs are a rapidly growing problem in our nations more suburban communities, as well as a continuing problem in center cities; and

WHEREAS, according to the most recent National Drug Threat Assessment, criminal street gangs are responsible for the distribution of much of the cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and other illegal drugs being distributed in rural and urban communities throughout the United States; and

WHEREAS, gangs commit acts of violence or drug offenses for numerous motives, such as membership in or loyalty to the gang, for protecting gang territory, and for profit; and

WHEREAS, gang presence has a pernicious effect on the free flow of commerce in local businesses and directly affects the freedom and security of communities plagued by gang activity; and

WHEREAS, gangs often recruit and utilize minors to engage in acts of violence and other serious offenses out of a belief that the criminal justice systems are more lenient on juvenile offenders; and

WHEREAS, gangs often intimidate and threaten witnesses to prevent successful prosecutions; and

WHEREAS, gang recruitment can be deterred through increased vigilance, strong criminal penalties, equal partnerships with State and local law enforcement, and proactive intervention efforts, particularly targeted at juveniles, prior to gang involvement; and

WHEREAS, because State and local prosecutors and law enforcement have the expertise, experience, and connection to the community that is needed to combat gang violence, consultation and coordination between Federal, State, and local law enforcement is critical to the successful prosecutions of criminal street gangs; and

WHEREAS, the continuing re-entry of more than 600,000 exoffenders from prisons each year – many of whom entered prison with a gang association or are leaving prison with a new gang association – could have a major impact on gang-related crime; and

WHEREAS, bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Orrin Hatch (UT) entitled the “Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005”; and

WHEREAS, the “Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005” would authorize $762.5 million over the next five years to support Federal, State and local law enforcement efforts against violent gangs, including witness protection, intervention and prevention programs for at-risk youth, and more funding for federal prosecutors and FBI agents involved in coordinated enforcement efforts against violent gangs; and

WHEREAS, the “Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005” would create new criminal gang prosecution offenses, enhance existing gang and violent crime penalties to deter and punish illegal street gangs, propose violent crime reforms needed to effectively prosecute gang members, and propose a limited reform of the juvenile justice system to facilitate federal prosecution of 16 and 17-year-old gang members who commit serious acts of violence; and

WHEREAS, similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors strongly supports the “Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005,” and urges that this legislation be quickly passed by Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States.

©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352