Law / Crime
2:46 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Street gangs now subject to beefed-up prosecution law

Local authorities now have the power to go after street gangs as criminal organizations under a new Illinois law.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Street Gang RICO Act on Monday.

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act doles out stiff penalties for acts performed as part of a criminal organization, like the Mafia.

The Illinois law applies the same idea to street gangs. It takes effect immediately.

"One of the best ways to make our neighborhoods safer is to go after street gang leaders who profit from crime," Quinn said. "Gang leaders cannot be allowed to escape justice by hiding behind criminals who do their bidding. This law will help law enforcement get gangs off the street and keep them off.”

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is a proponent. She says it'll help prosecutors go after gang leaders instead of treating gang crimes as isolated events. Her office has started a new division for RICO cases.

More than two dozen states have RICO laws. Opponents argue the law could go too far.