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Maryland State Prosecutors Want Tougher Gang Law

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Maryland state prosecutors want to beef up an anti-gang statute which was signed into law in 2007. The Gang Prosecution act is a statute designed to help suppress Maryland's growing gang problem, but many state prosecutors say the law was flawed from the start.

"We didn't think it would be an especially useful tool in prosecuting gang activity and as it turns out, I think we were right," says Prince George's County state's attorney Glenn Ivey. Ivey says that although the current law makes it illegal to threaten an individual with violence for leaving a gang, or simply being a member of a group which engages in an, "ongoing pattern of criminal activity", proving this in court is difficult.

"From my perspective, there's a lot of hoops we have to jump through to prove a crime under the current gang statute, but there's no bang for the buck," says Ivey. "We don't get longer sentences, and it's a high evidentiary burden that we have to meet."

A group of Maryland's top law enforcement officials including, Ivey and Attorney General Doug Gansler, plan to meet in Annapolis later this week to discuss re-writing the law to include stronger mandates.

Elliott Francis reports...

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