Assemblyman Saladino Calls for Tougher Penalties for Gang-Related Crimes

June 10, 2004
Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R,C,I – Massapequa) was joined by his fellow Minority colleagues and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa to call for action on a legislative package that would protect New Yorkers from gang violence and safeguard students from threatening, bullying and hazing in and around schools.

One highlight of the package is a comprehensive anti-gang bill that establishes new penalties for those who commit gang-related crimes and for threatening and coercing others to participate in gang activities. The bill would also make it illegal to commit gang offenses within 1,000 feet of schools.

"The residents of the district know all too well that gang violence can strike right here in our home community," said Assemblyman Saladino. "We are working to stiffen the penalties for those convicted of gang violence as a deterrent and to ensure that dangerous gang members are kept off our streets for a considerably long time. We will take all measures to protect our residents, students and young people from violence and the horrors that gang activity brings."

"The anti-gang legislation put forth today will help law enforcement, prosecutors and organizations such as the Guardian Angels eliminate gang-related activity and keep New York state’s neighborhoods safe from these types of crimes," said Mr. Sliwa. "I commend the Assembly Minority Conference for putting this legislation forward and urge the entire Legislature to act on this important bill."

Mr. Sliwa is also the co-host of the popular WABC morning radio show, "Curtis and Kuby," in New York City. The Guardian Angels is a non-profit, all-volunteer crime-fighting organization that started in 1979 with 13 members who patrolled the streets of New York City. It has since grown to include 25 chapters throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Brazil. Known for their familiar red beret, the Guardian Angels offer many programs to help take neighborhoods back from crime and educate teenagers on the dangers that lurk in cyberspace.

The Assembly Minority anti-gang package includes the following legislative initiative to protect the victims of gang violence as well as our students and youth:
  • Establishes penalties for those who commit crimes as members of a street gang – Those convicted of a misdemeanor would receive an additional Class A misdemeanor sentence for gang participation, an additional Class E felony sentence for non-violent felony convictions, and an additional Class D felony for violent first-degree felonies.
  • Makes it a crime to commit a gang-related offense within 1,000 feet of a school - Class E felony to Class C felony, depending on the threat level.
  • Makes it a crime to physically threaten or otherwise coerce others into participating in a gang, including on or near school grounds – Class E felony to Class C felony, depending on the level of threat.

According to Saladino, studies prove that gang violence, while associated with the inner city, is working its way into our suburban communities. This legislation has been motivated by gang-related crimes, including the murders, assaults and thefts that have taken place locally over the last few years. The Assembly Minority is answering the call by increasing penalties and changing the classification of these crimes to the most serious felony levels. Legislators say that longer sentences imposed by judges will keep these dangerous gang members off the streets and away from our citizens.