CHICAGO – In an effort to protect Illinois school children from getting pulled into the dangerous world of street gangs, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that makes it a Class 1 felony to recruit for gangs on school grounds.
“I hope this new law will begin to put the fears of Illinois parents and teachers to rest, and provide children with the safety they deserve at school,” said the Governor.
House Bill 4788, sponsored by State Sen. Antonio Munoz (D–Chicago) and Rep. Frank Aguilar (R–Cicero), makes criminal street gang recruitment on school grounds a Class 1 felony, which carries a sentence of 4–15 years, instead of the current Class 4 felony.
“We need to provide security for our children growing up in neighborhoods that are struggling against street gangs,” Blagojevich said. “Criminals need to know they are not welcome anywhere near our children or our schools, and they will be punished to the full extent of the law if they violate those restrictions.”
The legislation provides that a person when on school grounds who threatens the use of physical force to coerce, solicit, recruit, or induce another person to remain a member of a criminal street gang is subject to conviction. The bill also defines school grounds to include schoolyards, school playing fields, school playgrounds, and public property adjacent to school grounds. All are subject to a Class 1 felony.
HB 4788 is effective immediately.