As expected, the U.S. House approved an antigang bill, 279-144, that would expand the range of gang crimes punishable by death, establish minimum mandatory sentences, authorize the prosecution of 16- and 17-year-old gang members in federal court as adults, and extend the statute of limitations for violent crimes from five to 15 years, the Associated Press reports. Democratic opponents said the measure puts too much emphasis on punishment and neglects prevention. While the bill authorizes $387.5 million over five years to fight street crimes, opponents said the cost of housing new inmates would exceed $9 billion over the next decade.
Federal prosecutors would share about $50 million a year to designate areas of high-intensity interstate gang activity and create law enforcement teams to go after gangs. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) have introduced an anti-gang bill that contains funding for crime prevention programs and does not include mandatory minimum sentences.