Half a million dollar fine and 5 to 25 years imprisonment for gang membership offences

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Hon. Sam Condor (file photo)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 3rd 2011 – Stiff penalties are proposed for persons convicted for offences under draft legislation aimed at maintaining order and public safety and discouraging membership of gangs.

According to The Gang (Prohibition and Prevention) Bill, 2011, introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Sam Condor at the June 2nd sitting, any person who forms or attempts to form a gang; is or attempts to become a member of a gang; or gain an unlawful benefit, professes to be a member of a gang when in fact he or she is not, whether by telling anyone that he or she is a member of a gang or otherwise suggesting to anyone that he or she is a member of a gang; commits an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term of ten years.

A subsequent conviction on indictment will attract imprisonment for a term of twenty years.

A person who is a leader of a gang commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of twenty-five years.

A law enforcement officer who is at the same time a member of a gang commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of twenty-five years.

A 25-year jail term is also to be handed down on a person found guilty on indictment for coercing, encouraging, enticing, aiding or abetting another person to become a member of a gang.

A person who recruits or attempts to recruit a person who is not a child into the membership of a gang; or otherwise solicits or invites support for a gang; commits an offence, and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of ten years.

A 15-year jail term is also to be imposed on a person found guilty on indictment for recruiting or attempts to recruit into the membership of a gang a person whom he or she knows or ought to know is a child.

A person who, within five hundred metres of a school or place of worship, recruits into the membership of a gang a person whom he or she knows or ought to know is a child commits an offence, and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of twenty years.

A person who, whether by coercion or otherwise, prevents or attempts to prevent a person who is a member of a gang from leaving membership of the gang, that person commits an offence, and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of twenty-five years.

A person who, whether or not he or she is a member of a gang commits a gang-related activity at the direction of a member of a gang; knowingly assists, aids or abets any member of a gang to carry out a gang-related activity; assists in the concealment of a gang-related activity by the gang; or knowingly commits, assists, aids or abets in the commission of a gang-related activity at the direction of, or in concert with, or for the benefit of, the gang, or conceals or assists in the concealment of the same commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction on indictment, to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term of twenty years.

A 15-year jail term is proposed for a person found guilty for possession of a bullet proof vest, firearm or ammunition.

A five year jail term is proposed for harbouring a person wanted by any law enforcement officer for a gang-related activity.

According to The Gang (Prohibition and Prevention) Bill, it shall not be necessary to show that a particular gang possesses, acknowledges or is known by any common name; insignia; flag; means of recognition; secret signal or code; creed; belief; structure; leadership or command structure; method of operation or criminal enterprise; concentration or speciality; membership; age or other qualification; initiation rites; geographical or territorial situs; boundary or location; or other unifying mark, manner, protocol or method of expressing or indicating its membership when the gang’s existence can be demonstrated by a preponderance of other admissible evidence; but any evidence reasonably tending to show or demonstrate the existence of or membership in a gang shall be admissible in any action or proceedings brought under the Act.

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