From Mark Davis of Senator Yudichak's Office
HARRISBURG, October 3, 2012 - - State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) today applauded Senate passage of anti-gang legislation that included his amendment to toughen penalties for those who prey on children by forcibly recruiting juveniles under the age of 16 to join a gang.
"With high-profile, violent, gang-related crimes on the rise in NEPA, it is imperative that we strengthen our laws and give law enforcement officials more tools to use in the fight against organized gangs in our communities," Yudichak said. "This bill would also ensure that safeguards are in place to prevent gangs from recruiting impressionable, young teenagers."
House Bill 1121, which passed by a 45-3 vote, would increase sentences for crimes committed in support or promotion of gang activity and make gang recruitment a crime. Yudichak's amendment would also broaden enforcement tools by treating gang recruitment by jailed gang members with the full force of the law.
"Keeping our neighborhoods safe is not a political issue and this effort represents a united, bipartisan front dedicated to driving gangs and violence out of our communities," Yudichak added. "I thank my colleagues from the Northeast, Senators John Blake and Lisa Baker, as well as the Senate Republican leadership of Senators Dominic Pileggi, John Rafferty, John Gordner and Ted Erickson for making this legislation a priority."
Along with U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, Yudichak has spearheaded 'Operation Gang Up' - a series of educational seminars featuring law enforcement and local government officials designed to educate the public on increasing gang activity in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Yudichak said that the conversations at Operation Gang Up events signified a need for legislation to specifically target criminal gang activity.
The bill was sent to the House for concurrence. Yudichak said he has been working closely with state Reps. Sid Kavulich and Tarah Toohil to move the bill to the governor's desk.