Erica Little and Brian W. Walsh (legal policy analyst and senior legal research fellow) September 17, 2007 “The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act: a counterproductive and unconstitutional intrusion into state and local responsibilities,” http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/wm1619.cfm, July 8, 2009, Heritage Foundation, S. 456 is yet another example of Congress's habit of expanding federal criminal law in response to cure all of society's ills. The phenomenon of over-federalization of crime undermines state and local accountability for law enforcement, undermines cooperative and creative efforts to fight crime (which permit the states to carry out their vital roles of acting as "laboratories of democracy"), and injures America's federalist system of government. Although S. 456, in its findings section, purports to recognize the crime-fighting expertise and effectiveness of local authorities, it would further erode state and local law enforcement's primary role in combating common street crime.The findings state that, because state and local prosecutors and law enforcement officers have "the expertise, experience, and connection to the community that is needed to assist in combating gang violence," consultation and coordination among state, local, and federal law enforcement is crucial. The bill characterizes the programs that it would establish, such as the federal-state working groups that would be part of the newly created High Intensity Gang Activity Areas, as attempts to create such collaboration. Nonetheless, the bill would reduce the effectiveness and success of local prosecutors and law enforcement. Whenever state and local officials can blame failures to effectively prosecute crime on federal officials—and vice versa—accountability and responsibility are diluted. Although this is sometimes unavoidable for the limited set of crimes for which there truly is overlapping state and federal jurisdiction, unclear lines of accountability for wholly intrastate crimes are unacceptable. Combating common street crime is a governmental responsibility over which the states have historically been sovereign, with little intervention from the federal government. Federal criminal law should be used only to combat problems reserved to the national government in the Constitution. These include offenses directed against the federal government or its interests, express matters left to the federal government in the Constitution (such as counterfeiting), and commercial crimes with a substantial multi-state or international impact. Most of the basic offenses contained in S. 456 do not fall within any of these categories and so are not within the federal government's constitutional reach. For example, the fact that armed robberies committed by gang members may (rarely) involve interstate travel or some other incidental interstate connection does not justify federal involvement. In fact, the vast majority of prohibited conduct under S. 456 would almost never take place in more than one locale within a single state. Such conduct is, at most, only tangentially interstate in nature and does not justify federal intervention. S. 456 ignores recent decades' lessons on how to successfully reduce crime. New York City and Boston in the 1990s and early 2000s demonstrated that when accountability is enhanced at the state and local levels, local police officials and prosecutors can make impressive gains against crime, including gang crime. By contrast, federalizing authority over crime reduces accountability of local officials because they can pass the buck to federal law enforcement authorities. In addition, over-federalization results in the misallocation of scarce federal law enforcement resources, which in turn leads to selective prosecution. The expansive list of federal gang crimes in the bill would place significant demands on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorneys, and other federal law enforcers that would distract them from the truly national problems that undeniably require federal attention, such as the investigation and prosecution of foreign espionage and terrorism. The bill would create 94 additional Assistant U.S. Attorney positions, presumably to handle the increased work load that the new federal "gang crimes" in the bill would create. This dedication of resources not only diverts from more pressing needs that are truly federal, but constitutes legislative micromanaging of the executive branch's ability to enforce the laws.
National Association of Governors 09’-the NGA is a committee formed by the governing head of all states and territories http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.8358ec82f5b198d18a278110501010a0/?vgnextoid=57c5e790fa435010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD accessed 7/8/09
Congress and the Administration should avoid the imposition of unfunded federal mandates on states.Federal action increasingly has relied on states to carry out policy initiatives without providing necessary funding to pay for these programs. State governments cannot function as full partners in our federal system if the federal government appropriates states’ ability to devise and legislate their own solutions to domestic problems by requiring states to devote their limited resources toward complying with unfunded federal mandates. To provide maximum flexibility and opportunity for innovation, as well as foster administrative efficiency and cross-program coordination, federal-state programs should be designed to meet the following principles. Legislative authorization should be kept current, and all programs should be subject to periodic review. There should be a congressional determination of a compelling need for federal action. Legislation should include clear statements of measurable program objectives to reduce administrative confusion and facilitate judicial interpretation of congressional intent. States should be actively involved in a cooperative effort to develop policy and administrative procedures. Grant requirements should be tied to the purpose of the grant. The federal government should respect the authority of states to determine the allocation of administrative and financial responsibilities within states in accordance with state constitutions and statutes. Federal legislation should not encroach on this authority. Federal programs should aim to encourage compliance through incentives rather than punish non-compliance with the loss of federal funds. Programs should include reasonable incentives to reward states that efficiently manage federally funded programs.