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Md. Senate OKs stronger laws against gang members

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Maryland Senators have approved legislation to make it easier to prosecute gang members and stiffen penalties against them.

The Senate voted 35-9 Monday to close loopholes in the Gang Prosecution Act of 2007. The current law has resulted in only one guilty plea and not one conviction by a jury in nearly three years.

The bill adds crimes that would make gang members eligible for stronger penalties, including witness intimidation and second-degree assault, and requires a judge to order additional prison time in certain circumstances.

Many African-American senators opposed the legislation, saying it could penalize innocent youth for their associations.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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