Bill to Increase Penalties for Offenses Related to Criminal Gang Recruitment Heads to Governor’s Desk, Says Toohil
HARRISBURG – Legislation strongly supported by state Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), that would enhance the penalties for crimes related to criminal gang recruitment, Tuesday was unanimously approved on concurrence by the House and sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature. Toohil, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, helped author language that was included in the final version of the bill.
“My local newspaper recently described the horrific crime committed against a 15-year-old school girl who was beaten as part of a gang initiation,” said Toohil. “Criminal gangs target our young people for recruitment. They litter our streets with drugs and enforce their criminal enterprises through threats and violence. And these gangs are on the rise in communities across Pennsylvania.”
House Bill 1121 would create the offense of recruiting criminal gang members and enhance the penalties for such offenses. Specifically, the measure would direct the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to increase the penalties for the crimes of soliciting, threatening or injuring a person to join or remain in a criminal gang.
The grading of the offenses would range from second-degree misdemeanors to third-degree felonies and would carry maximum penalties ranging from two to seven years in prison. The offense would be graded one degree higher when the crime is committed against a person under the age of 16.
More than two dozen states now have similar laws in place including Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.
“The National Gang Intelligence Center attributes the recent 40 percent increase in gang membership to more aggressive recruitment efforts; the formation of new gangs, including collaboration with rival gangs; and new opportunities for drug trafficking,” said Toohil. “This new law is badly needed to protect our children and our communities.”
For more information on Toohil and her legislative priorities, visit www.RepToohil.com
State Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Rep. Toohil’s Office