CHICAGO – State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, passed legislation out of the House recently that would change the current practice of criminalizing the act of simply being in the same room as a member of a street gang.
“While we understand the intent of the current law is to prevent crime, the impact has actually made things worse for our communities,” Cassidy said. “Families and neighborhoods are being fractured even though now more than ever we need to work together to make our communities safer and stronger.”
Under current law, individuals who are on probation, released on bond or ordered by a judge to refrain from contact with street gang members can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for making any sort of contact with a member of a street gang. Meant to deter further gang activity, in reality this practice has made reintegration more difficult for people with criminal records. Under Cassidy’s legislation, only individuals who actively participate in gang activity would be penalized.
“Right now, people fear getting sentenced to a year in prison for simply going to church where a gang member might be present. Folks are getting fined for accepting rides to work from a cousin or brother who happens to be a member of a gang,” Cassidy said. “We need to focus on stopping actual gang activity instead of ostracizing people who are trying to be active members of their families and communities.”
For more information, please contact Cassidy’s full-time constituent service office at (773) 784-2002 or email RepCassidy@gmail.com.
Visit Rep Kelly Cassidy’s website
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Chicago, IL 60640
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