Dear Editor,

Finally, New Jersey residents are beginning to wake up and realize the fact that gang members are not simply troubled youth in need of an after school basketball program, they are domestic terrorists in every sense of the word and pose a major threat to public safety.

I have a viable five-point plan that would destroy every street gang (as well as most other criminal organizations) in New Jersey within a month, that needs to be implemented. Otherwise, the gang epidemic in our state will simply continue to grow.

My plan is as follows:

1) Criminalize Street Gang Membership. Currently it is perfectly legal under New Jersey law to belong to a gang. I believe that street gang membership in itself should be a serious crime with sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

2) Arrest Gang Members. Once gang membership has been made illegal, bring law enforcement agents in from all over the country to help arrest every known gang member in the state. In order to make room for gang members in our jails and prisons, non-violent offenders could be released early on probation/parole. This crackdown would critically disrupt gang operations. The cost of this operation would be offset by the assets that would be seized from gang members under civil forfeiture laws.

3) Legalize Drugs. At the same time that gang membership is criminalized, end the failed war on drugs which is responsible for creating today's street gangs in the same way that alcohol prohibition created gangsters like Al Capone. Marijuana should be made completely legal and hard drugs (such as heroin and cocaine) should be provided to addicts free of charge at clinics. This would put drug dealers out of business, stop more people from getting addicted to drugs and make it so that addicts would no longer need to commit crimes to fund their addictions. The clinics would also serve as a great tool to bring addicts into treatment programs.

4) Bring back the 2nd Amendment. End New Jersey's blatantly unconstitutional gun laws and allow anyone who is not a dangerous criminal or mentally ill to possess firearms without restriction.

It's insane that a teenage thug has no problem buying a gun illegally on the street, but yet a responsible law-abiding adult like Brian Aitken gets thrown into jail for simply possessing a firearm. When law-abiding citizens pack heat, criminals get burned.

5) Legalize Prostitution and Expand Legal Gambling. By implementing a Nevada-style system of legalized prostitution in specific regions (such as Atlantic City) and by expanding legal gambling there would be no other "vice" industries for gangs to turn to.

If you agree that our state's current approach to dealing with gangs isn't working, please contact your Assemblyperson or State Senator and ask them to support my plan. In-person visits are always best, but letters and e-mails are also very effective.

 

Eric Hafner

Red Bank, NJ