More time behind bars for gang members

More time behind bars for gang members
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- Gang enhancements and gang aggravators lead to sentences longer than life in prison. Gang aggravators add even more time on top of a gang enhancement.

Last year alone, gang aggravators got Armando Lopez a life sentence for a drive-by shooting. Three other men who were involved each got a 160-year prison sentence. 15-year-old Cesar Prado was tried as an adult on attempted murder charges. With a gang aggravator he got nearly 50 years behind bars.

Troy Clements is a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for Yakima County. He tells KIMA a change in the way gang members are prosecuted has proven successful. Clements thinks the harsh sentences handed out last year have led to fewer crimes this year.

"When they see somebody go, like I said, go away for 50 to 100 years, they realize maybe that's not the lifestyle or where I want to end up in my life," Clements said.

Yakima handed down about a dozen sentences with gang aggravators last year. That's about the same number as Spokane County, which has a much larger population and double the number of Grant County which has a growing gang issue.

"it keeps us more aware, keeps us more like, more careful about what we do, you know what I mean, just not so ruthless or careless," one former gang member told KIMA.

Yakima County prosecutors are working with their peers across the state to pursue tougher legislation. They will bring it to new Attorney General Bob Ferguson when he comes to Yakima next week.