MONMOUTH COUNTY: Officials announce joint effort to curtail county gun crime

A joint initiative between county and federal prosecutors has been announced to combat gun-related violence and criminal activity in Monmouth County.

ASBURY PARK — A joint initiative between county and federal prosecutors has been announced to combat gun-related violence and criminal activity in Monmouth County.
   The initiative, “Project Stop the Violence,” was announced by Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman last week.
   ”The violence and killings must stop. Our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be a clear message for all offenders who choose to use a gun to commit crimes. You will face significant prison time, period,” Mr. Gramiccioni said.
   The initiative is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat gun crimes in Monmouth County by combining law enforcement efforts with community action and public awareness.
   The fundamental principle of the initiative, according to a county press release, is that individuals who carry guns or use guns to commit crimes will serve substantial prison time. The strategy depends on a partnership among law enforcement with assistance from community activists, educators and civic and faith-based organizations across the county.
   ”Gun violence on the streets of our cities and towns is unacceptable on any level,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “By teaming up with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, we can fight this scourge with additional law enforcement resources and the more serious legal consequences defendants face if we prosecute them in federal court. Partnerships like this are vital to stopping the violence that plagues our citizens.”
   As part of the Project Stop the Violence initiative, representatives from both offices and numerous local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies will meet regularly to identify individuals in municipalities across the County who have committed gun crimes or have been involved in violent criminal activity.
   The members of the task force will jointly screen gun and violent crime cases to determine the most effective strategy for arresting and prosecuting these targets, and whether they are appropriate candidates for prosecution in federal court. That determination will take into consideration various factors, such as the facts and circumstances of the case, the target’s criminal history and the punishment to which the target may be exposed.
   Finally, as part of this coordinated multi-agency initiative, an experienced Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor will be designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to team up with Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute these cases in federal court in Trenton.
   Depending on case circumstances, targets selected for prosecution in federal court may face substantially lengthier periods of incarceration for gun-related crimes than they would in state court.
   Furthermore, the advisory United States sentencing guidelines contain provisions that also increase sentences for gun-related crimes, according to the release.
   Because parole has been abolished in the federal system, a defendant sentenced in federal court typically serves 85 percent of his or her sentence. Moreover, upon sentencing, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons designates the location where a defendant will be incarcerated, which could be virtually anywhere within the nationwide federal prison system.
   ”The message is clear – gun crime equals jail time,” Mr. Gramiccioni said. “The strong partnership between the prosecutor’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will further ensure armed criminals are sent to jail for substantial periods, and they are unable to maintain contact with fellow gang members still on the streets.”