(The Center Square) – Georgia Republicans formally rolled out legislation to increase penalties for those who recruit minors into gangs.
Senate Bill 44, introduced by state Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia, also mandates minimum sentences for gang offenses currently on the books in Georgia. It would allow prosecutors and judges to consider lower sentences only in some situations, including where a defendant renders “substantial assistance” in identifying, arresting or convicting other gang members.
“There is no place for gangs in Georgia, and passage of this vital legislation is a top priority,” Hatchett said in an announcement. “Enhancing gang sentencing across the board will ensure tough prison sentences for more gang offenders while offering a strong incentive for those accused of gang activity to cooperate with prosecutors.”
The push comes after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, touted public safety and increased gang penalties in his state of the state address.
“This bill is one piece of the overall approach to reaffirm that Georgia will not tolerate gang activity or recruitment,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones, a Republican, said in an announcement. “Senate Bill 44 will enact powerful new tools to combat the violent street gangs operating across our state. Governor Kemp’s plan to target gang recruitment of minors will cut off the pipeline of young people being drawn into gangs.”