What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Punishment Fitting the Crime : H.R. 1279. Crime/Vote on Passage of Bill to Punish and Deter Gang Violence. (2005 house Roll Call 168)
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H.R. 1279. Crime/Vote on Passage of Bill to Punish and Deter Gang Violence.
house Roll Call 168     May 11, 2005
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House passed H.R. 1279, a bill intended to punish and deter gang violence. H.R. 1279 would authorize increased funding for law enforcement and prosecutors. It would also increase penalties–i.e., prison time–for violent, gang-related crimes, including authorizing the death penalty for gang-related murders. In addition, it would give the U.S. Attorney General discretion over whether to try 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, and would increase penalties for violent crimes committed by illegal aliens. Progressives acknowledged the seriousness of the gang problem in America and agreed that measures must be taken to stop it, but disagreed with Republicans about the means to achieve that goal. James McGovern (D-MA) characterized the bill as "bad policy wrapped in a bad bill that will simply not do the job the sponsors claim it will do." He stated that the bill "unjustifiably expands death penalty provisions, removes judicial discretion over transferring juveniles to the adult court system, and imposes ineffective mandatory minimum sentencing." Republicans disagreed, arguing that the bill would "creat[e] the tools to put gang members behind bars and get them off the streets." (Phil Gingrey (R-GA).) Handing a defeat to Progressives, the House passed this bill by a vote of 279 to 144, with 71 Democrats crossing party lines to vote for the bill with Republicans and 20 Republicans voting against the bill with Democrats. Thus, the House approved legislation designed to punish and deter gang-related violence, especially by means of increased prison terms for certain violent crimes and for illegal aliens.

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