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Feds Crack Down On Seattle Gun Crimes

Patricia Murphy
06/19/2012

Federal prosecutors say criminals who use guns in the city of Seattle will be more likely to face federal charges. The move is an effort to stem gun violence in the city after a spate of highly publicized shootings. The expanded anti–violence program is a joint effort between the Seattle Police Department, the King County Prosecutor's Office and the Department of Justice. KUOW's Patricia Murphy reports.

TRANSCRIPT

Federal penalties mean more prison time and more supervision after release.

In the past the government had the option of pursuing federal charges in gun crimes, but they only prosecuted the worst of the worst — about 40 cases last year.

Under the new initiative, US Attorney Jenny Durkin says that will change. She expects the number of cases to increase.

Durkin: "If you commit a crime and there is federal jurisdiction we will take every case. We have seen it makes a difference on the street if people know that when they commit those crimes, they will be looking at federal time in federal prisons, far from their homes."

But not every gun case is going to be a federal case.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg called on the state legislature to increase the penalties for convicted felons and juveniles caught with guns.

Satterberg says current laws don't send a strong enough message to young people about the seriousness of carrying a firearm.

Satterberg: "In fact it takes five convictions for illegal gun possession for a juvenile under 18 before they go to the state juvenile rehabilitation administrations, and then for a sentence of 15 weeks."

Satterberg says juveniles who carry guns are waving a red flag that we shouldn't ignore.

There have been 21 homicides in Seattle this year. That's one more than all of last year — 19 have been the result of gunfire.

I'm Patricia Murphy KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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