Preventing and Suppressing Gang Crimes through Comprehensive Anti-Gang Legislation: A Solution to Nebraska’s Gang Problem

[EDITOR’S NOTE: From time to time, the Bulletin will publish “white papers.”  These papers come from a number of student sources; they could be seminar papers, class papers, or case notes that have not yet been selected for publication.  The Bulletin‘s goal in publishing these materials is to provide practitioners with the background research that was done for the paper.  In other words, we hope to create a depository of research that was done for different purposes.  We hope that readers of the Bulletin will find these papers useful and interesting.

These papers have not undergone any substantial editing by the staff prior to publication.

There is no citation format for our white papers.  It is not our intention that they be cited.  We envision our white papers solely as a starting point from which practitioners and others can launch their own research.

This paper was written to fulfill a requirement for the Criminal Sanctions Seminar.  All students at the College of Law must complete a seminar in order to graduate.

The following is a summary of the article.  To read the full article, one must follow the (.pdf) hyperlink.]

At the present time, Nebraska does not have criminal laws on the books that explicitly pertain to gang-related crimes. Senators in the 101st Legislature, however, recently introduced anti-gang legislation: Senator Ashford introduced LB 35, Senator Friend introduced LB 63, and Senator Pirsch introduced LB 508. This seminar paper, written before the introduction of the above legislative bills, explores Nebraska’s gang problem and proposes comprehensive anti-gang legislation for Nebraska. To establish the necessity of anti-gang legislation in Nebraska, the paper provides some basic background information: First, the paper considers the definition of “gang” and the causes of gang formation and successful gang recruitment. Then, the paper contemplates the unique gravity of gang crime, spotlights several national gangs found in Nebraska, and explains the relatively new phenomenon of international gangs such as MS-13 and the 18th Street gang, which also operate within Nebraska’s borders. Finally, the paper takes a brief look at some gang statistics in Nebraska to demonstrate the breadth of Nebraska’s gang problem. The paper then shifts focus to how states have battled gang-related crime and surveys surrounding states’ anti-gang legislation. Finally, the paper concludes that Nebraska should enact anti-gang legislation, provides the rationale for doing so, and proposes the “Nebraska Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act”. The proposed Act would (1) create a substantive criminal offense for “Active Gang Participation”, (2) enhance the penalties for enumerated gang-related crimes, (3) create substantive offenses for gang recruitment and retention activities, and (4) amend Nebraska’s Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm statute to include a substantive drive-by shooting offense.

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