“Upgrades crime of soliciting or recruiting for criminal street gang while on school property.”

NJEA supports S-1479 (Sacco, Greenstein).  This legislation amends N.J.S.A. 2C:33-28 and concerns soliciting or recruiting of individuals for a criminal street gang on school property.  Under this bill, an actor who commits the offense on school property is guilty of a crime of the third degree and is punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

NJEA supports this bill because we are committed to keeping children safe—especially in school. All too often schools, because of the large congregation of youth, are ripe for criminal gang recruitment.  Every measure must be taken to protect our students who may be vulnerable and susceptible to joining a gang.  Making it a third degree crime should act as a strong deterrent to the proliferation of criminal gang activity---activity that is not exclusive to our urban areas.

This legislation, however, must be part of a larger effort to combat gang activity.  There are already effective programs underway in some schools to promote gang awareness and to keep kids away from drugs and violence.  We should promote these programs and support partnerships between schools and, for example, county sheriffs’ offices to address these issues more thoroughly.

NJEA urges you to vote “yes” on S-1479.