Georgia Republicans Pushing New Bill To Protect Children From Gang Violence

On Tuesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joined local, state, and federal law enforcement officials at a Georgia Anti-Gang Network meeting in Atlanta to push for legislation to combat gang violence. 

The legislation, Senate Bill 44, would add a mandatory five years to prison sentences for anyone convicted of a gang crime and a mandatory 10 years for anyone convicted of recruiting children into a gang.

The bill passed the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-3 party-line vote, with only Republicans voting in favor of it, and it now moves the full Senate for debate. 

“You come after our children. We are coming after you,” said Kemp. “These kids are being recruited in middle school, in elementary school, this is not a high school problem. When kids get to high school it is already too late for many of them. We know that they are being recruited at earlier and earlier ages.”

“There’s people at the top that are driving this all the way down to our young children and that is who the bill is designed to go after and send a message and that is exactly what I believe we will do,” Kemp added.

Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin pointed to the deadly shooting in November at Atlantic Station as an example of children being killed by gang violence. 

“You can just look to the 17th Street shooting. Quite a few of those kids were students at Atlanta Public Schools, it affected our schools in a lot of ways,” Chief Applin told Fox 5 Atlanta. “We had kids who died. Some of our students who were their friends, we have to work with them, where they feel comfortable with learning again, things like that.”

Attorney General Carr noted how the state’s new Gang Prosecution Unit is working on multiple cases involving children. 

“A gang that was formed and created in the Dougherty County Schools, kids as young as 10 years old. We’ve got a case out of Barrow County, where recruitment tools were used, including bringing in ice cream trucks to try to recruit children into the gang. We’ve got a case out of Cherokee County, that we allege that it is a false charity that was using children to sell candy bars and other things that were funding the gang,” Carr said. 

D & B Staff

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Episode 53