Pennsylvania joined a number of other states by creating legislation to deal with gang activity. The new law makes it a criminal offense to recruit gang member (including causing physical harm or using threats and intimidation to make someone remain a member or to become a gang member). The penalty for such activity is more severe if the victim is under 16.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentence is being directed to establish sentence enhancements for a crime of violence or drug trafficking that benefits a gang.
Finally, the term “gang” is now legally defined in Pennsylvania. The term “criminal street gang” means a formal or informal ongoing organizations, association or group, with or without an established hierarchy that has one of its primary activities the commission of criminal or delinquent acts and that consists of three or more persons.
A number of bi-partisan legislators from Northeastern Pennsylvania were instrumental in making this a realty. They are: Sens. John Yudichak, D-14, Nanticoke, and Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., and Reps. Tarah Toohil, R-116, Butler Twp., and Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-114, Taylor. Other members of the state legislature also assisted.
The law is effective 60 days from the Governor’s signing.