Citizens expect that Georgia’s U.S. Senate candidates will confront the public safety and criminal justice reform issues. That because Georgia has been constantly wracked by rising gang-violence since 2020— and now Atlanta ranks 3rd highest in murder rates nationally.
In an exclusive interview with InsiderAdvantage, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker astutely pointed out that all 159 counties have at least one criminal street gang. This was particularly apt since all 159 sheriffs cite gangs as their number one public safety threat.
Georgia is not atypical of other states in gangs laying siege to public safety. That’s why there’s a need to attack this depravity at the federal level.
This is where the opportunity for Number 34 (Walker’s iconic number) to win the political Heisman trophy: Promise to sponsor and push for passage of a federal anti-gang prosecution law.
One of Georgia’s incumbent senators, Walker’s opponent should he win the GOP nomination, actually gave a eulogy at the funeral of Rayshard Brooks (who Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis identified as a known Bloods gang member who attacked two police officers). That’s why Walker should challenge the soft-on-crime incumbent Raphael Warnock and score with federal anti-gang prosecution legislation. This would enhance his stance on public safety and show what a strong strategy might actually look like.
Walker’s stances for public safety alone will certainly draw the right attention. But without engaging crime experts, criminal justice agencies, and law enforcement for the right data, he will need a rushing play leading up to May 24 to be taken seriously. A true national strategy, spearheaded by proposing a federal anti-gang law, would come out of the winning playbook.
Since at least 2018, there were an estimated 71,000 gang members in Georgia out of the 1.4 million nationwide. Despite these statistics, however, strong gang prosecutions remained quite rare due to rogue district attorneys refusing to leverage anti-gang laws because of misguided “criminal justice reform.”
Charging statistics obtained by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association document such scarcity in some counties. Pro-defendant organizations have also opposed stronger gang legislation because of fears it would lead to a disproportionate impact on urban communities. Rock-bottom gang charging, however, tends to show this argument is just a quarterback sneak by Democrats. Because in reality, there are white gangs, Asian gangs, Hispanic gangs, black gangs, and gangs of all colors, races, and nationalities. These groups have formed alliances with various criminal enterprises underneath legitimate businesses and have procured legal and political resources that stiff arm prosecution.
Moreover, several Georgia DAs directly oppose enhancements to state anti-gang laws—and gangs have certainly appreciated it since it simply emboldens them to commit more brazen criminal activity.
With the foregoing in mind, intervention in the form of a law that would nationally focus on the gang crime epidemic and force accountability on federal law enforcement and prosecution is necessary. That is what a federal gang prosecution law would do.
Walker could easily huddle with any number of Georgians to assist. Because of surging gangland violence, Georgia State Sen. John Albers called in Georgia’s special team of gang prosecution experts who aimed this year to enact new tools to tackle the criminal street gang network. Unfortunately, Albers’ efforts were also blocked by-wait-for-it-Superior Court judges and some gang-crime-denying Republicans in the House of Representatives
This not only shows the need for a federal law, but makes Albers a top candidate to help call plays for Walker.
In calling for a federal anti-gang prosecution law, Walker could align himself with additional political and public safety pro-bowlers besides Albers. One would be Fulton County Executive District Attorney Mike Carlson. He has publicly pushed for a national gang prosecution law for decades. Other prominent figures who have made such pleas are former U.S. Attorney and Columbia County District Attorney Bobby Christine, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, GBI Director Vic Reynolds, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Carlson’s father, famed UGA law professor Ron Carlson, to name a few.
What America really needs in response to this multi-front insurgency is a federal gang prosecution law, particularly in the wake of the Trump-sponsored First Step Act which U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton insists it did “more to harm . . . public safety.” That’s because in addition to it reducing mass incarceration it led to the early-release of violent gang members. And with some Georgia judges now granting bonds after a gang member shoots a cop six times, the gangland peril only grows worse with each bad play we make.
At this point on the field, America and Georgia are down to their final hail Mary for a federal gang prosecution law. Perhaps the next Republican U.S. senator from Georgia will make the play. If Walker wants to be the one, he needs to strap on the anti-gang helmet and get in the game.
Bill Black is a Georgia attorney focusing on government investigations, cybersecurity, and privacy.