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Despite Veto Calls, Chafee Signs Gang Bill

Despite Veto Calls, Chafee Signs Gang Bill

NewsRadio 920 WHJJ and the Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed legislation that provides for an extra sentence for those convicted of a gang-related felony, despite calls from community groups for him to veto it.

The legislation authorizes a sentence "enhancement" of up to 10 years for someone convicted of a felony knowingly committed at the direction of a criminal gang or for the gang's benefit.

Twenty groups including the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence and the American Civil Liberties Union told Chafee the bill purports to target "criminal street gangs" but will end up unfairly targeting the minority community, including at-risk youth, for increased imprisonment.

The measure prompted a heated floor debate in the House in the final hours of the legislative session. It was amended to allow for the extra sentence to be suspended.

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