New Gang Law Could Reduce Chicago Murder Rate: Alvarez

RICO bill would allow prosecutors to go after gangs as criminal enterprises

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police and county prosecutors touted a new strategy this week to fight gangs as Chicago's murder rate climbs to 50 percent higher than last year.

    State law currently allows officials to tackle one gang crime at a time, but new legislation called the Street Gang Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) bill allows prosecutors to go after gangs as criminal enterprises.

    Both the state House and Senate passed the bill, and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez are calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to sign it.

    "It is difficult to watch gang member after gang member, mostly young minority men, convicted and put in prison again and again while leaders of these gangs continue to escape arrest and prosecution," Alvarez said Wednesday.

    McCarthy said between 75 and 80 percent of the city's murders are gang-related, fueled by 69 gangs and more than 600 factions.

    The bill, they said, will help prosecute gang leaders who order the crimes resulting in high city murder rates.

    "We are already looking back at cases we recently took down which may in fact fall into the parameters of this statute," McCarthy said.

    But first the bill must become a law. Quinn reportedly has said he will look at it as soon as it hits his desk.