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Prison, gang reform
By baltimoresun.com
Published: 03/03/2010

Julie Bykowicz write about testimony in Annapolis seeking tougher gang laws. Complaining that legislation passed two years ago has resulted in only one conviction (a guilty plea), law enforcement officials including Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy are urging changes to better define gangs and stiffen penalties

"The statute is very hard to use because of its ambiguous language," said Jessamy, who is leading the push for tougher anti-gang laws. "We find ourselves defending the law more than using it."

Civil liberties groups and public defenders are opposing new anti-gang legislation, which they say would fill already crowded state prisons at a time when legislative analysts have suggested reducing incarceration as a cost-cutting measure. They say prevention and intervention are more effective ways to combat gangs.

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