Anti-Gang Bill Signed into Law, Says Toohil
|State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) Thursday joined Gov. Tom Corbett, other lawmakers and police officers in Harrisburg for the signing of Act 200 of 2012. The new law enhances the penalties for crimes related to criminal gang recruitment.
HARRISBURG – Legislation strongly supported by state Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), that enhances the penalties for crimes related to criminal gang recruitment, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday. Toohil, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, helped author language that was included in the new law, which takes effect in 60 days. Toohil joined Corbett at the bill signing ceremony on the campus of Harrisburg Area Community College.
“It is a very important bill for Pennsylvanians since it’s the first piece of gang-related legislation we’ve ever had,” said Toohil. “But it’s an especially important piece of legislation for the Hazleton area because we have had gang issues. Gang recruitment, as well as trying to harm someone who wants to withdraw from a gang, is now a criminal offense.”
Act 200 of 2012 creates the offense of recruiting criminal gang members and enhances the penalties for such offenses. Specifically, the new law directs 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 now ranges from second-degree misdemeanors to third-degree felonies and carries maximum penalties ranging from two to seven years in prison. The offense is 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.
Toohil also supported major prison reform legislation that was signed into law in July. Act 122 of 2012 is expected to save taxpayers more than $250 million within the first five years.
The act initiates smarter sentencing and parole practices, increases access to alternative sentencing programs, creates alternatives to prison for probation and technical parole violators, and establishes a comprehensive program to reduce recidivism and ensure the successful reentry of offenders into the community.
Toohil is especially pleased by provisions in the act that have reduced the number of inmates housed at the troubled MinSec pre-release corrections facility in downtown Hazleton.
“The way that it affects the Hazleton area is phenomenal,” said Toohil. “Those pre-release prisoners who are in MinSec are now being sent back to state correctional facilities to finish their sentences. If you did the crime, you’re now going to do the time. There’s going to be truth in sentencing.”
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