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Mississippi lawmakers mull more prison time for gang members

Long prison terms for gang members would be imposed under a bill moving forward in the Mississippi House.

The House Judiciary B Committee voted Friday to send House Bill 541 forward to the full House for more debate.

The measure would require that any gang member convicted of any crime committed, even a misdemeanor, spend an additional five years in prison. It would also classify all gang activity as violent crimes, making it harder to get paroled.

Law enforcement officials say the measure is necessary because of a recent report in which police agencies reported gangs present in all of Mississippi’s 82 counties.

Civil liberties groups oppose the measure, saying it cuts against efforts to reduce Mississippi’s prison population.

The measure also lets public officials and individuals sue gangs for money.

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