Loeffler, Blackburn, Cotton Introduce Legislation to Crack Down on Gangs

Efforts Receive Widespread Support From Georgia Leaders

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) today introduced the Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020 to strengthen federal sentencing guidelines for criminal gang activity and create a federal database for criminal street gang activity within the U.S. Department of Justice.
 
The legislation is modeled after Georgia law and significantly expands the criteria that can be used to enhance a sentence for gang activity. It also makes it easier to prosecute gang members by requiring only a single criterion from this expanded list to be met for the stricter sentence. Additionally, any illegal immigrant convicted of a crime that qualifies for a stricter sentence would be referred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for potential deportation. The legislation also creates a federal database of criminal street gang activity and requires states and localities to contribute information to it.
 
“Gang violence ends innocent lives, ruins families, destroys communities and spreads fear,” said Senator Loeffler. “This legislation reaffirms our commitment to keeping American communities safe by establishing stricter punishments for convicted gang members, creating a federal database to track gang networks and ensuring illegal immigrants who engage in criminal gang activity are deported. We must not only work to prevent the formation of gangs, but also to track their members and hold them accountable for their vile actions so we can end the violence and keep the American people safe.”
 
“Transnational gangs like MS-13 spread violence across our borders and traffic drugs into our communities and schools,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn. “Only tough prison sentences and the threat of deportation will send a strong message of zero tolerance to these sophisticated and hardened criminals. I am pleased to partner with Senator Loeffler to introduce legislation that will give the federal government additional tools to aggressively punish gang members and to remove them from the U.S. to face justice in their home countries.”
 
“Criminal gangs prey upon the most vulnerable members of our society, and we should make it easier to take them down,” said Senator Tom Cotton. “Our bill will help law enforcement agencies track gang activity while also empowering prosecutors to bring individual gang members to justice—including the eventual deportation of criminal aliens.”
 
“I applaud Senator Loeffler for taking the fight against criminal street gangs to the U.S. Senate,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. “Her bill will strengthen penalties against convicted gang members, aid in the deportation of illegal aliens engaged in criminal gang activity and support law enforcement in their efforts to track and defeat criminal organizations. I thank Senator Loeffler for her leadership to dismantle criminal street gangs and keep families across our nation safe.”
 
“In Georgia, we have taken a hard stance against gang activity with one of the strongest statutes in the nation,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “I commend Senator Loeffler and her colleagues for introducing federal anti-gang legislation that complements Georgia’s and provides prosecutors and law enforcement officials nationwide more tools to crack down on violent criminal networks - including a critically important national street gang database. Many of the policies outlined in this bill will help aid regional, state, and local efforts that cross jurisdictional lines.”
 
“The alarming escalation of gang crime currently victimizing our nation proves what we at GBI have long known: America is in gang crisis,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds. “For years, studies have told us that gang membership in the U.S. exceeds well-over one million, with gangs responsible for the vast majority of the crimes that spread fear, devastate victims, and decimate our communities the most. Without a doubt, gangs, which honor no jurisdictional boundaries, pose the greatest threat to public safety befalling this nation…Senator Kelly Loeffler has distinguished herself by stepping forward to provide a functioning federal anti-gang law to combat America's gang crisis. The Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020 will provide federal prosecutors and law enforcement with a viable means to combat criminal street gangs across the nation. The Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020 will also encourage improved partnering between federal, state, and local anti-gang initiatives. Together, these and other elements of the Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020 will vastly enhance public safety and protection for communities across the U.S.”
 
“Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler should be applauded for the Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020,” said Jimmy Callaway, City of Morrow Chief of Police and President of the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA). “By sponsoring a new law that will confront the Gang Crisis that has terrorized the United States for years, Senator Loeffler has risen above politics and shown that she is willing to put the public safety of Americans—all of them—first. The Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020, will be a vital asset in reducing both gang crime and gang recruiting…GGIA fully supports it.”
 
Background:

  • The Cracking Down on Gangs and Deporting Criminals Act of 2020 expands the crimes and activities connected to gang activity that would qualify for a longer sentence of up to 10 additional years in federal prison.
  • The bill enables prosecutors to more easily pursue stricter sentences for gang members by making any one of the listed offenses eligible for the longer sentence.
  • U.S. Attorneys will be required to submit reports to Congress on an annual basis on the number of stricter sentences sought and imposed.
  • If an individual is illegally present in the United States and is convicted of an offense that would be eligible for a stricter sentence, the individual would be referred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for potential deportation. 
  • This legislation creates a national street gang database at the U.S. Department of Justice to facilitate the exchange of information about gang activity between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as prosecution and corrections agencies.
  • Under this bill, states and localities are required to provide information on criminal street gangs to the database if they receive certain federal law enforcement grants. 

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