States fight back against knockout games

10:26 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
"Knockout game" footage (Photo: CBS via LiveLeak)
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(USA TODAY) - Over the past few months, several state lawmakers across the country have introduced bills that would impose harsher punishment on perpetrators of the "knockout game." In "knockouts," an assailant randomly punches a person as they are walking while the attack is videotaped and often posted to social media.

USA TODAY Network looks at a few of the proposed measures:

Oklahoma

Under a bill proposed by Republican state Rep. Bobby Cleveland, a juvenile charged in a knockout case would be tried as an adult. Additionally, a knockout charge would be considered a felony instead of a misdemeanor, which could result in a minimum of 10 years in prison.

"This is something that is planned, and I don't think a teenager who does this should hide behind being a teenager," Cleveland told USA TODAY Network.

Illinois

Republican state Rep. Dwight Kay introduced the Knockout Assault Prevention Act, a bill that would make committing a knockout a felony, resulting in a prison sentence of three to seven years. Additionally, the legislation states that teens 15 or older involved in the crime would face trial in adult criminal court.

"I don't think it's funny at all," Kay said of knockouts. "This is not a game, and furthermore, it will not be tolerated."

Wisconsin

Republican state Rep. Dean Kaufert proposes a bill targeting not only knockout attackers but also those who videotape the incidents. The measure would require that juveniles charged with knockouts be tried as adults.

"I think the person who does the videotaping should be held responsible, too, as an accomplice," he told USA TODAY Network. "It's a proactive thing to say to teens or young adults in Wisconsin that this is not a prank or a game. And if you do something like this, there will be serious adult consequences."

New Jersey

Republican state Rep. Ronald J. Dancer is co-sponsoring a bill that would set a minimum amount of time that those convicted in knockout cases would have to serve in prison before being eligible for parole.

"It's really time for these individuals to do the time," Dancer told USA TODAY Network. "I think it's a message that we have to send to these sick individuals who want to assault unprotected and unsuspecting everyday, real-life people."

New York

Republican state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco and state Sen. Hugh T. Farley propose a bill in which those convicted in knockout cases could receive up to 25 years in prison (up from the current four to 15), regardless of their age. The bill also would mandate that juveniles be tried as adults.

"They are not treated in a criminal manner, and really they have [had] no fear of the consequences of their actions," Farley said of juveniles in knockout cases under current law.

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