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Federal Law

In his 1997 state of the union address, President BILL CLINTON requested that Congress "mount a full-scale assault on juvenile crime, with legislation that declares war on gangs," including more prosecutions and tougher penalties. The same year, Congress considered two bills under the title Anti-Gang Youth Violence Act of 1997 (S. 362, H.R. 810, 105th Cong.). Despite initial support for this legislation, which would have provided $200 million in funding for local programs, neither bill passed through its respective committee.

Although Congress has been unable to enact comprehensive anti-gang legislation, other federal law and actions of federal authorities have been used in the effort to curb gang violence. Federal prosecutors have relied upon the RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS (RICO) statute to prosecute gang members. In the 1990s, the number of RICO prosecutions against gang members more than doubled. Federal authorities have also assisted local law enforcement through a variety of funding programs. For example, in February 2003, the Los Angeles City/County Community Law Enforcement and Recovery (CLEAR) anti-gang program received $2.5 million in federal funding for its efforts in reducing gang-related violence.

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