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NY Lawmakers Take Aim At Gang Violence With New Penalties, Prevention Programs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Lawmakers in Albany are looking to pass a series of measures aimed at ending gang violence here.

The new measures include seven new felonies and longer sentences for gang activity and recruitment of members. They also provide for gang prevention programs in schools.

WEB EXTRA: Read, Track The Proposed Legislation

For the first time, New York's penal code also would define what constitutes a criminal street gang: Two or more people identified by a common name, sign, dress, symbols, tattoos or other markings, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

The legislation comes as law enforcement agencies struggle with a burgeoning MS-13 gang violence problem on Long Island, which has drawn the attention of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among others.

Just last week, three alleged members of MS-13 were arrested and charged with attempted murder following a machete attack.

MS-13 gang violence has been linked to 11 killings in Central Islip and Brentwood in the last six months.

"We need to target our children as young as five years of age," Carolyn Baez said.

Baez directs programs for youth enrichment service. Her office is directly across the street from the Central Islip Community Park where the bodies of four young men were discovered bludgeoned to death last month -- presumably by machete wielding MS-13 members.

Her group spent the weekend getting rid of gang graffiti and has a message for Albany where the state is targeting gangs with proposed legislation.

"We need after school programs that will target the social, emotional part of their lives. We need more mentoring programs, mental health services, tutoring programs," she said.

State leaders from both sides of the aisle recently joined Sessions on Long Island and pledged action on a series of measures.

On Monday, the senate began with a push for penalties.

"We don't want the same thing to happen to their child that happened to mine and her best friend," Robert Mickens said.

Mickens' daugher Nisa and her best friend Kayla Cueves were innocent victims of the MS-13 street gang in Brentwood, according to authorities.

Six people have been charged with their murders, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

Mickens is now running for Brentwood School Board, and hopes legislation in Albany will be far reaching.

"It's very important that this bull goes through, because it affects the lives of everybody," he said.

The new anti-gang bill will go to the democrat led assembly where some are asking for even more emphasis on education and prevention. A vote is expected during the final weeks fo the regular legislative session which ends in June.

Late Monday afternoon, the state senate approved the bill with a final vote of 48 to 13.

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