JACKSON, MS (AP) - Long prison terms for gang members would be imposed under a bill moving forward in the Mississippi House.
The House Judiciary B Committee voted Friday to send House Bill 541 to the full House for more debate.
The measure would require that any gang member convicted of any felony to spend an additional five years in prison. It would also make it harder for gang members to get paroled. An earlier version included those penalties for misdemeanors, but that was dropped.
Law enforcement officials say the need for the measure is shown by a recent report in which police agencies reported gangs in all of Mississippi's 82 counties.
Civil liberties groups say the measure inhibits efforts to reduce Mississippi's prison population.
The measure also lets officials and individuals sue gangs.