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

Main Street releases 2014 holiday ornament

Main Street Newnan has announced its 2014 Christmas Ornament will be available for purchase during the Plaid Friday– alternative to Bl ... Read More


How will new illegals provisions impact Ga.?

President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, announced Thursday, could provide temporary protection from deportation for f ... Read More


Leadership Georgia

Senoia’s growth in spotlight for conference

Members of the 2015 class of Leadership Georgia got a sneak preview at what is at the heart of the success story that is Senoia. On Thursday ... Read More


Bypass project is complete

After more than five years and millions of dollars, the Hwy. 34 Bypass/Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard widening project is finally compl ... Read More


Senoians arrested in child porn operation

Two Senoia men suspected of either possessing or distributing child pornography were arrested this week following a three-month operation le ... Read More

Fill the Stocking fundraiser returns

Fill the Stocking is back. The Newnan Times-Herald’s program that lets generous people make donations to help the needy at Christmas & ... Read More