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.