Senate OKs gang recruit bill

By JAKE HENSHAW • The Salinas Californian Capitol Bureau • August 28, 2008

p>SACRAMENTO – The California Senate, on its second try, decided Wednesday that parents should face criminal charges for actively recruiting minors as gang members.

Approval of Assembly Bill 1033 on a 21-6 vote came after its author, Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, amended it to clarify that the bill targets adults who contribute to the recruitment of minors into active criminal gang activity, not just membership.

“It is intended to be a gang prevention statute,” Caballero said after the vote, “(and) start getting parents and neighbors who start recruiting children into gangs.”

Offenders initially could be diverted into a program providing help to parents in dealing with children, but they eventually could face up to $2,500 in fines and a year in jail.

AB 1033 must return to the Assembly for approval of the Senate amendments before the Legislature adjourns its regular session for the year Sunday.

In debate Wednesday, the measure ran into opposition from senators who feared that it could entrap well-meaning parents who are overwhelmed by problem children and don’t do enough to keep them out of gangs.

“I know enough families in neighborhoods where I grew up in downtown Los Angeles whose parents are just distraught because they really can’t control their kids,” said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who voted against the bill.

“I guess they’re supposed to be able to” control their kids, she continued. “But to make it a crime when they don’t still bothers me.”

Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, responded that “this (bill) is about people who take affirmative acts, young parents who are gangbangers and take their kids with them.”

“We just have a disagreement over whether that (bill) is going to capture a lot of parents or not,” Caballero said. “We are trying to get those who are recruiting.”

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