Gang membership could be reason for death penalty

By WALTER C. JONES
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – Prosecutors could use gang membership as a reason to ask juries to sentence a convicted murderer to lethal injection under legislation introduced Wednesday.
Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, introduced House Bill 355 which adds gang membership to the list of 12 “aggravating circumstances” juries can consider during sentencing in a capital case. Other examples include kidnapping and conspiracy.
Fleming said he also wants to add another circumstance in a future bill, torture.
“When I went to the gang prosecutors of the state and asked them ‘What changes do you need to better protect us from gangs,’ they gave me several things,” he said. “The easiest and most simple one was this to begin with.”
The bill draws on a definition of gang membership contained in a law he helped pass when he was in the House of Representatives earlier.
He believes the new bill will bring attention to a growing issue. He said experts estimate that as much as 90 percent of crime is connected to gangs.
Metro Atlanta has about 40 gangs, and other cities like Augusta could have half that many.

He expects opposition to his bill, especially from death-penalty opponents.

Larry Pellegrini, executive director of the Georgia Rural Urban Summit advocacy group, is already taking a stance against Fleming’s bill.

“Adding to the death penalty over the years has never been a solution to the problems of violence in society, and this is another misguided effort to look tough and feel tough and not do much,” Pellegrini said.

Fleming is considering sponsoring another bill that Pellegrini and other capital-punishment foes have opposed over the years. That bill would allow a judge to impose the death penalty even if the jury is not unanimous.

Fleming sponsored similar bills that passed the House in 2007 and 2008 but died in the Senate.



More Local

Gas prices fall 5 cents in past week

Before Christmas, as many as 20 states, including Florida, could have average gas prices below $2 per gallon as the national average for Dec ... Read More


Coweta Commission

Dollar General rezoning, pension discussion on agenda

A public hearing on the rezoning of property at Fischer Road and Raymond Hill Road for a Dollar General store is on the agenda for Tuesday n ... Read More


NTH turns 150

UFO movie lands in Coweta

In the spring of 1979, Newnan played host to a Italian film company shooting a motion picture. Leone Film chose Newnan as the backdrop to th ... Read More


UWG invites community to Newnan campus

The University of West Georgia (UWG) is inviting the public to celebrate the grand opening of its new Newnan campus at its upcoming August c ... Read More


School bus schedules available on NTH website

The 2015-2016 bus schedules for the Coweta County School System are now available on The Newnan Times-Herald website, www.times-herald.com. ... Read More

senoia city council

Public hearing on trailer regulations set

Proposed changes to the city of Senoia’s ordinances that will forbid any temporary vending trailers in the historic district are on th ... Read More