MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — New legislation is going after gang violence in the state by enhancing penalties for those involved.
Attorney General Steve Marshall has called it the Alabama Gang Prevention Act. Marshall helped draft the legislation with House and Senate sponsors.
During a press conference Monday, Birmingham’s Police Chief says gang activity could be behind a homicide that took place on Easter two years ago.
“We believe that’s a possibility, is two opposing groups that were engaged in gunfire with one another that caused these innocent individuals to be hit by gunfire,” Chief Scott Thurmond said.
Thurmond says he supports legislation that would crack down on gang violence.
“I hope it gets passed. We would be all for it, and I think most law enforcement would be,” Thurmond said.
The proposed bill lists several characteristics defining a gang member. A person who meets that criteria could face longer jail time if convicted of certain crimes. For someone found using a gun to further gang activity, they could face between five and 30 years in prison depending on the weapon.
The bill also requires juveniles 16 or older involved in gang-related crime to be tried as adults.
“It’s out there, and we need to address it,” Rep. Allen Treadaway said.
Former Birmingham Assistant Police Chief, now Rep. Allen Treadaway sponsored the bill. He says law enforcement are seeing more violent crime, and more young people committing it.
“We’re hoping as a deterrent, we toughen these laws, stiffen the penalties, and send a clear message to folks that are engaged in this activity, that there’s going to be an enhancement,” Treadaway said.
Lawmakers will consider both the House and Senate versions of this bill in committee hearings Wednesday.