ATLANTA - There is push back on Governor Brian Kemp's call to be tough on gangs. Gov. Kemp says he will push for more ammunition for law enforcement and prosecutors to lock up gang members.
But a criminal defense attorney, who was a prosecutor in the Fulton County office, says a special statute is overused. He says some young people are being ensnared in a broad category of gang labeling that in some cases does not fit.
As a result, Ash Joshi, says the actual time convicted gang members are serving is being reduced because state prisons do not have the jail space to handle all the people who are being handled under the statute.
"We have created a sort of boogeyman," Joshi complained. "Homeowners don't know that in spite of all the tough talk, the defendant may have to serve a range of 32 months to five years".
That example covers a variety of crimes linked to gang membership, but not murder.
But the governor says the crime of gang activity is among the most serious the state faces, with law enforcement agencies identifying more than 70,000 members.