Criminal gang activity bill clears House panel


RALEIGH (AP) -- Prosecutors and law enforcement say North Carolina's decade-old law designed to reduce gang crime and violence needs changing to better protect the public and prevent gang involvement by young people.

They spoke Tuesday for legislation that passed a House judiciary committee that would increase punishments against those who commit crimes connected to criminal gang activity. Current law provides for a separate gang activity crime, but committee speakers told lawmakers it's difficult to prosecute. The measure also would be more specific about definitions of criminal gangs or gang activity.

Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb backs the proposal. She says 75 percent of the violent crime occurring in her county is gang-related. The bill's next stop is the House floor.