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Proposed bill makes gang membership reason for death penalty

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 5:23 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 12:34 AM
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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  a bill that would allow juries to consider the death penalty for gang members.   FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, introduced a bill that would allow juries to consider the death penalty for gang members.

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.

Fleming 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.

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palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 02/20/13 - 07:15 pm
5
9
Holy, holy, cow. Mr. Fleming
Unpublished

Holy, holy, cow. Mr. Fleming must be watching too much TV or too many movies. 90% of crime can be attributed to gang actitvity?? I can't wait to hear who his "expert" sources are. Grandstanding with outright lies.

GnipGnop
12227
Points
GnipGnop 02/20/13 - 07:27 pm
4
4
I would rather see...

A bill that allows the death penalty without a 12 to 0 vote. That's as archaic a law as there ever was.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 02/20/13 - 07:31 pm
7
2
This gets into how you

This gets into how you determine what's a gang. Bad idea, Barry.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 02/20/13 - 07:37 pm
4
5
You are ABSOLUTELY correct in
Unpublished

You are ABSOLUTELY correct in that regard, too, Riverman. There is not a widely accepted definition of a criminal "gang." It's been basically left to each law enforcement agency to define a gang as it sees fit.

younameit
188
Points
younameit 02/21/13 - 08:20 am
7
1
A novel idea

I have a great idea. Maybe we should read the bill before commenting?! It just might make reference to the Street Gang and Terrorism Act that provides a very narrow definition of the term "gang.". http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HB/355 It seems that Rep. Fleming is providing a tool to be used by juries if they need it. As a lawyer, he probably thinks that it would be too late to provide that tool after the crime is committed because the constitution prohibits prosecution under ex post facto laws.

my.voice
4811
Points
my.voice 02/21/13 - 08:21 am
8
2
I would prefer to see a law

I would prefer to see a law that states when the death penalty is warranted, that the execution take place within 24 hours, not 24 years.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 02/21/13 - 11:22 am
6
2
I'm In ...!
Unpublished

I think it is a great idea. Barry continues to get my vote. A good guy, concerned for all of us. Gang/Thug mentality needs to be eradicated, so I'm all for dirt-napping enough until the mentality is in check. Hell, they're going to kill each other anyway, and I don't want to become collateral damage. And I agree, that execution must be carried out quickly. I think two years is PLENTY of time to mount your appeals. Then it is down the "Yellow Brick Road" to Jackson...

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 02/21/13 - 09:26 am
5
4
90%

Thumbs up to palmetto for the 6:15 p.m. post. Here is the offending paragraph from the story:

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.

When a politician hides behind the "experts say" line, you know you're dealing with a weak argument. Also, look how he couches the payoff statistic: He says “experts estimate that as much as 90 percent of crime is connected to gangs.” Well, if the true number is 26.4 percent, he is still covered by his "as much as" qualifier. And the term "connected" can be wildly manipulated to include just about every activity under the sun.

Sen. Bill Jacksons “more people are killed with hammers than with pistols, shotguns and AK-15s” quote from last week is better than Fleming’s couching statement.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 02/21/13 - 10:16 am
0
0
I think
Unpublished

murderers, rapists and child molesters should be given 5 mulligans. After they have committed their first five for free, then decide if they are due 2 weeks in time out. Then make them a liberal senator or representative.

Fiat_Lux
15411
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/21/13 - 12:14 pm
5
1
Whatever

The bottom line is that gang activity--the criminal variety--is out of control. They attack, rob and kill people everywhere, many of them innocent bystanders or simply props for cred.

But hey, lets us get rid of all our guns so these killers will turn into decent, law-abiding citizens since they won't have to worry about people like us hurting them anymore.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/21/13 - 01:14 pm
5
1
People have absolutely NO

People have absolutely NO CLUE what you're talking about. But, just sit back in your comfortable desk chair, typing on your computer and spewing as if you're a gang or crime expert. Most of you are coddled and have no clue what the streets are truly like after 8pm.

Most have no clue that the VAST MAJORITY of shootings you hear about on TV (Because thats the extent of your knowledge on a real shooting is what you've seen on TV) are gang and drug related. Most robberies are gang related; most kidknappings, most sexual assaults (Oooh, you didn't know that women have to get "Sexed" into the gang?). Where as MEN have to get "Jumped in" which means to get beat up by all the gang members; women get "sexed in" so, use your imagination on what that means.

I have said this before and will say it again; gang members are the most disgusting form of human being that is possible to exist. I detest their very existance because I've SEEN FIRST HAND the results of their detestable lifestyle, THEY CHOOSE!! They are arrogant, proud, conceitted, egotistical, and probably worse than all; extremely selfish!! They DESTROY thousands of lives by selling poison and making a financial profit of that destruction. How does it get much worse than that? Financially benefiting from the demise of other human beings!! Little babies starving and crying in the corner, diaper hasn't been changed in 2 days because Mommy is on a crack binge. All the while, Mr. Drug dealing gang banger gets to ride down the road with $5000.00 gold teeth in his mouth, $10,000.00; 26 inch rims on his Oldmobile and $4,500.00 cash in his pocket for shooting craps.

Oooh, now before people want to get Loco on me about being racist; I'm certainly not leaving out the known predominantly white gangs such as the KKK, Aryan Brotherhood, Hell's Angels, Outlaws, etc. They are all worthless pieces of trash that BENEFIT from HARMING other human beings. The big thing in the white gangs are METH LABS, getting people addicted to their substance and making hundreds of millions of dollars on that addiction. Yes, I realize the person taking the drugs is at fault as well, but I KNOW there is a special punishment awaiting those who FINANCIALLY BENEFIT from the destruction of other peoples lives. That is a special kind of scum indeed.

Yes, I also realize that people do sometimes leave these gangs and become decent citizens. I can only hope more and more of them would do so and the gangs wouldn't exist at all; but that isn't going to happen. But THIS ARTICLE is speaking of making gang membership and "aggravating circumstance" during SENTENCING; which means they've already been CONVICTED of a violent felony.

Yes, I believe they should be put to DEATH and relieve society of the disease; which is their very existence, in that they've FREELY CHOOSEN to live a life of crime. YES, if you've choosen to join a gang, you've choose a complete life of crime, period. THIS is the ONLY way we TRULY PEACEFUL people will EVER life a peaceful life is if people like this DO NOT EXIST!!

We should give them expedited trip to their Creator and let Him deal with them justly, however He sees fit. Trust me; it's coming one day very soon. They will pay for their choices but it will be true accountability, not some liberal version of accountability. Revelation 21:8 says exactly what will happen to them, with special attention to the word "Sorcerers" which means drug pushers/dealers. So, without repentence and a change of heart by their own free will, their death sentence is coming regardless of what MEN might think of it.

Thank you Mr. Fleming; I've known you for some time now and you just gave me another reason to continue my support for you. Good common sense reasoning.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 02/21/13 - 01:30 pm
2
0
2011 Information
Unpublished

Well, this is a report from the FBI, dated 2011. I KNOW things have NOT gotten any better since 2011. Here's the link :
http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat...

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/21/13 - 01:38 pm
3
0
Junk, Junk and more Junk!!

"You are ABSOLUTELY correct in that regard, too, Riverman. There is not a widely accepted definition of a criminal "gang." It's been basically left to each law enforcement agency to define a gang as it sees fit."

Again, just trying to muddy the issue and confuse people to TRUTH.

You're correct, there is no universally agreed upon definition of "Gang".

But there is for CRIMINAL GANG, which is what this is really about, even though THIS article doesn't mention it.

Criminal Gang; "A criminal gang is defined as any organization, association or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, which (1) has continuity of purpose, (2) seeks a group identity, and (3) has members who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

Local law enforcement are given the flexibilty to define groups as gangs because in EVERY medium to large city in the United States and even many small cities, LOCAL gangs pop up that aren't affiliated with the national gangs. They are just local neighborhood gangs but still participate in the same activities, just attempting to control THEIR neighborhood only. But, as with every criminal organization (Including the government) more power brings more greed. As they become stronger and larger, they usually branch out into other neighborhoods, causing conflict with other gangs. It's very similar to a disease, it just continues to spread and spread. Drug dealers/gang members are an infection and we need a seriously strong anti-biotic!! No, it wouldn't do away with ALL crime in the world, but I believe people would be shocked and amazed at just how much crime it would actually do away with.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 02/21/13 - 02:13 pm
2
0
Difficulty

Prosecutors have a tough time getting juries to vote unanimously for the death penalty in heinous murder cases. It seems to me it will be extremely difficult to get a death penalty sentence for drug dealing just because the dealer is a member of a gang.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 02/21/13 - 02:32 pm
3
3
Just wait until they define
Unpublished

Just wait until they define your book club, or your Masonic Temple, or your Cub Scout den, or any other group you belong to as a "gang."

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 02/21/13 - 02:35 pm
3
4
Some consider law enforcement
Unpublished

Some consider law enforcement to be a " gang".

Based on whose definition would one be convicted?

eagle
94
Points
eagle 02/21/13 - 02:40 pm
0
0
MyFather..now tell us how you
Unpublished

MyFather..now tell us how you really feel!! MyVoice...I totally agree with you. Give them 24 hrs...then it's eternal dirt nap time!!

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 02/21/13 - 02:51 pm
4
3
And just when did belonging
Unpublished

And just when did belonging to a "gang" become illegal? If belonging to a gang is justification for the death penalty because of the amount of violence that is gang related, then Being Muslim should be justification for the death penalty because of how much terrorism is Islam related.

Fiat_Lux
15411
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/21/13 - 03:08 pm
4
0
Uh, no

Simply being in a gang isn't what's being considered for the death penalty, friends and neighbors.

Fleming is proposing--quite reasonably--that someone with a gang affiliation CONVICTED OF MURDER should be escorted off planet earth permanently. Not that long ago, this wasn't even an issue that bore discussion. People convicted of cold-blooded murder or murder during the commission of some other heinous crime were taken out and hung. No appeals, no life w/out parole; just gone to God.

I'm sure mistakes were made. With gangbangers, it wouldn't be a mistake.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 02/21/13 - 03:13 pm
4
1
I have no problem escorting
Unpublished

I have no problem escorting them off the earth if convicted of murder REGARDLESS of whether or not they belong to a "gang." I just have a problem letting the government start defining what a gang is and isn't.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/21/13 - 04:16 pm
3
0
Thank you Fiat Lux...

for actually reading and UNDERSTANDING the article. This IS NOT about putting people to death simply because they are a gang member. It's is about adding this to the "aggravating circumstances" in which JURIES may consider when deliberating during the sentencing phase. AGAIN, LISTEN CAREFULLY FOLKS; the person we are talking about HAS ALREADY BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME WHICH THE DEATH PENALTY CAN BE CONSIDERED OR HAS BEEN SOUGHT BY THE DA.

The crime for which the death penalty is being sought IS NOT being in a gang. Such aggravating circumstancs can be ARMED ROBBERY. If I go into a store to ROB that store, but end up killing the clerk, the jury MAY hear ROBBERY as the "aggravating circumstance" during the sentencing phase. But the death penalty CRIME IS MURDER, not ROBBERY. Got it???

Even some of the people I highly respect and always agree with, got this one wrong. Read and understand it more clearly before blasting off. "Criminal Gang membership" if PROVEN, SHOULD be considered as an "Aggravating circumstance" in a death penalty case; because CRIMINAL GANGS use crimes as intiation, promotion within the ranks and many other aspects for someone to PROVE themselves to the gang.

Did you know that most criminal gangs have a rank structure very similar to military? They have street guys and officers, with rank attached to those officers. Did you also know there are criminal gangs in which you CAN NOT be an officer unless you have taken a life? THIS MUST BE PROVEN!! You don't think people like this WHO HAVE COMMITTED MURDER AND ARE BEING CHARGED WITH IT, SHOULD BE PUT TO DEATH?

That last question was to the middle of the road folks and my conservative friends; I know far leftists don't want ANYONE put to death, period.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 02/21/13 - 04:20 pm
4
0
Let's Not Get Too Out There...Okay ?
Unpublished

We are NOT talking about Cub Scouts, or Brownies, or Masons, we are talking about CRIMINAL gangs. And I think the average person knows the difference. The jury will. And Angela, I AM ready to help any Muslim terrorist convicted of murder or any other act of terrorism, to meet his maker and his 40 ugly virgins. They had just as soon kill us, as look @ us. That is one of the problems that the Army is having in Afghanistan -- they don't REALLY know if they are training a friendly or a terrorist. This came from a guy that I know that has now been over there twice.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/21/13 - 04:47 pm
2
0
Being MUSLIM, of course isn't

Being MUSLIM, of course isn't even a crime and shouldn't be. Therefore of course it isn't considered for the death penalty. BUT, if a Islamic Terrorist plans a bombing, intending to kill in MASS, and indeed does kill quite a few; do you not believe ISLAMIC TERRORISM would be introduced as an "Aggravating circumstance"? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT WOULD BE!!

Ok, lets say you catch a person planting a bomb on a bridge; then after the arrest, you discover he has tattoos on his back and belly that read "Al Qaeda til death" or "Jihad is the goal" or "Death to the West". Would you believe he COULD be planting this bomb as Islamic Terrorism?? Hhhhmmmmmm.......

Ok, now you are working a murder where a pawn shop was robbed and the clerk or owner was gunned down, but the reason isn't apparent because it doesn't appear he gave resistance. Then after arresting the shooters, you find evidence they are in the "Gangster Disciples". Then you find out the gangster disciples have a rule saying you must commit an armed robbery and murder, in order to be promoted to a high ranking officer. Would you possibly believe the MOTIVE for the murder was at least partially because of gang involvement? Do you think this MAYBE SHOULD be heard by the jury when hearing "aggravating circumstances" in reference to the MURDER? Hhhhhhmmmmm.........doesn't sound hard to me.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/21/13 - 04:50 pm
2
0
@Little Lamb

They AREN"T trying to get a death penalty for someone who is dealing drugs, because they are a gang member. They MUST ALREADY have committed a crime that meets the death penalty guidelines and DRUG DEALING isn't one of them.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 02/22/13 - 11:01 am
0
0
Murdering Gang Members

Go for it Rep Fleming! I agree with you, myfather and fiat!!

realitycheck09
307
Points
realitycheck09 02/22/13 - 05:24 pm
0
1
I think you guys all missed

I think you guys all missed the point of this bill. It was written to make it easier to execute - ahem - a certain demographic group of the population. A group that already gets more than its fair share of capital punishment. Lady Justice still ain't blind.

oldredneckman96
5095
Points
oldredneckman96 02/22/13 - 10:38 pm
1
0
Gangs
Unpublished

I belong to several gangs; a long time member of the Baptist Church, was a Boy Scout, am a Mason, member of two different unions, Boiler Makers and IBEW, and travel with a large family. Now if any law maker wants to mess with that, come on. However, if he wants to put a dent in crime, make it a mandatory jail term of life for any drug dealer. That, my friend will stop crime.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/23/13 - 10:59 am
0
0
@realitycheck and oldredneck

Realitycheck; your version of "reality" isn't even worthy of a response.

Oldredneck; which one of those "Gangs" you are in, are CRIMINAL gangs? Are the "gangs" you're a member of, involved in committing and conspiring to committ criminal acts? Hhhhhhmmmm, can you tell the difference now?

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