Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced the launch of “Project: Stop the Violence,” a joint initiative with the United States Attorney’s Office designed to combat gun-related, violent criminal activity in Monmouth County. 

“Project: Stop the Violence” is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat gun crimes occurring within the County, combining law enforcement efforts with community action and public awareness.  The success of the strategy depends on a partnership among law enforcement with assistance from community activists, educators and civic and faith-based organizations across the County.  The fundamental principle of the initiative is felons who carry guns or use guns to commit crimes will serve significant jail time because honest and law-abiding citizens want safe neighborhoods for themselves and their families. 

As part of the Project Stop the Violence initiative, task force representatives from both offices will meet regularly to identify some of the most violent individuals in municipalities across the County – individuals who belong to violent gangs or organizations operating within Monmouth, and who have been charged with or suspected of being involved in shootings, murders or other violent crime.  Some of these individuals have pending gun, drug, or violent crime cases.  Some are in violation of their parole or probation.  Others have no pending charges but nonetheless have lengthy and disturbing criminal histories. 

The members of the task force will jointly screen gun cases to determine the most effective strategy for arresting and prosecuting these targets.  Depending on certain case-specific factors and targets’ criminal histories, the case may be selected for federal prosecution.  Priority is given to the most violent targets in an effort to respond to recent trends in violent crime.  A key consideration for the task force is assessing which jurisdiction (State or federal) may carry the greatest length of incarceration – a consideration that directly relates to law enforcement’s continuing effort to seriously disrupt and deter ongoing crime.

In certain cases, federal prosecutors may issue letters of intent to prosecute to defendants charged with State gun-related charges.  These letters would indicate that a defendant’s case has been reviewed and, if the pending State charges were not resolved within a certain period of time, the case would be adopted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution. 

Depending on case circumstances, defendants prosecuted in federal court are often exposed to greater periods of incarceration upon sentencing for gun-related, violent crimes.  Moreover, parole has been abolished in the federal system.  Upon sentencing, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons designates the location where a defendant will serve his or her jail term without regard to the defendant’s wishes, residence or location of family members – the end effect is often a complete removal of that violent offender from family and community – a substantial tool helpful in ensuring general criminal deterrence. 

“The message is clear:  gun crime = jail time.  The strong partnership between the Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will further ensure that armed criminals are sent to jail for substantial periods and that they are unable to communicate with fellow gang members still on the streets,” Gramiccioni said.