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106

Federal involvement in prosecuting gang activity

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies are assisting in local investigations of gang activity because of the heinous and uncontrollable nature of criminal activities involving gangs. It is part of an increasing federal effort to assist local law enforcement in targeting and federally prosecuting violent criminals.

Local law enforcement has become frustrated with state criminal system. Federal assistance in prosecuting traditionally state-prosecuted crimes is needed in many states where penitentiary sentences result in minimal time served by defendants. This pathetic situation has resulted in an almost total absence of deterrence as a result of criminal sentences. As a consequence, some repeat offenders have no fear of punishment. Gangs exemplify this type of contempt of the criminal system.

Although the adult criminal system is ineffective in curtailing gang violence, the juvenile system is often worse. Generally, most juvenile delinquents are handled by the state and are usually immediately released or lightly punished. The methods employed in handling juveniles generally stem from a traditional approach of trying to rehabilitate rather than punish juveniles. The practical problem in dealing with an increase in juvenile crime is compounded by a limit of beds which are used in determining available space to accommodate juvenile offenders.

Increasingly, violent criminals are gaining a keen respect for the federal criminal system. They are aware of the abolishment of parole, as well as the high guidelines and enhanced sentencing for drug and firearms-related federal crimes. It is imperative for the safety of the citizens of the United States that United States Attorneys' Offices become more involved in seeking out the most serious juvenile offenders for prosecution as delinquents or transferring them for criminal prosecution as adults.