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Gangs were considered one of the most tallkied about political topics in the 1980s and 1990's. soon thereafter the federal government implemented minimum punishments for one being involved in gang related crime. In President Clintons 1997 State of the union Address, he noted that there was now a war on gangs. Around the year 2000 President Clinton said that fighting gangs was one of the nations top priorities. In 2007 the senate passed a federal bill, The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act. This bill proposed intervention and prevention programs to lessen the threat of gangs. Florida including many other states are among the top fastest growing "gang states" in the union. These "gang states" are states where gangs and gang related crimes seem to be increasing. A study conducted by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and state prosecutor Bill Shepherd, this report showed that gangs are active in all sixty seven of Florida's counties. This is more than one thousand five hundred gangs and over sixty five thousand members. One major problem is that much research has indicated that gang members perpetrate crime, but whats commonly overlooked is that gang members are victimized. gang members not only victimize non gang members but they also victimize gang members from other or rival gangs thus creating gang on gang violence, commonly referred to as "gang banging". In fact, gang members are victimized more often that non gang members (juvenile). Currently Florida ranks number two in the nation for the state experiencing the most drive by shootings. Evidently, gangs are reemerging as a major social concern (Fox, Lane & Akers, 2010). This study examines the social disorganization theory's ability to commit predict crime perpetration and victimization among a sample of gang affiliated and non gang affiliated individuals incarcerated in Florida's correctional facilities. Explaining and defining gangs and gang memberships has been a tedious task for gang researchers, gangs can be anything from street gangs, youth gangs, prison gangs, motorcycle gangs, or even political gangs. But when the word "gang" is heard most would think of a street gang. Fox, Lane and Akers refer to Florida state statutes which define a criminal gang as a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that has one of its primary activites as being that of criminal or delinquent acts, also common name, colors, identifying signs or symbols.
As described in the article social disorganization is a large scale theoretical perspective derived by sociologist at the Chicago School. It explains that delinquency leads to destruction of community controls ultimately leading to disorganization and the replacement of traditional values with criminal values. It explains that no matter who moves in or out of the neighborhood it will always be tainted and disorganized, and that the problems cannot be reversed. This article explores the prediction that people join gangs because social disorganization. The theory used for this research would be social disorganization theory. This theory is almost the complete opposite of rational choice because the rational choice theory explains that one weighs the options before committing a crime; while social disorganization explains that if it's in your community its almost inevitable and that's what influences you. An example of this theory would be if you grew up in a neighborhood or a certain part of the city where gangs were prevalent; you may be inclined to join a gang also. This is true according to the predictions of the authors. For instance if you grew up in a neighborhood full of college graduates and successful individuals you are more likely to attend college than live the "street life" simply because you may be ashamed. Where as to one who grew up around gangs may be ashamed to go off to college fearing that people in their old neighborhood may look at them as a geek. In my point of view I feel as though the source of data would hinder understanding understanding behavior from a rational choice perspective because rational choice perspective means you weigh the pros and cons and if you are born into a neighborhood where there tons of negative influences, the probability of you getting out is very small. It may not be that you want to live that life you just almost have no other choice.
This research was conducted in Florida throughout their county jails, participants were incarcerated individuals. The research was conducted in Florida because it was considered to be one of the states that is seeing an increase in gang members and gang related crimes and violence. Jail inmates were chosen as participants for several reasons a couple being that jails house many offenders, therefore stumbling upon gang affiliates and non gang affiliates. And secondly jails more so than prisons have gangs emerge within the facility. Twenty jails were notified of Florida's top most populous counties and fourteen gave consent to participate. Those housed in solitary confinement, psychiatric, and communicable disease units were excluded from this research. Between September of 2008 and January of 2009 approximately two thousand surveys were collected. Respondents in the full sample were mostly male (75 percent), non-white (57 percent), non-Hispanic (79 percent), and young (mean age was thirty-two, median age was twenty-nine and modal age was twenty-one) (Fox, Lane & Akers, 2010). The majority of those that participated in this study reported that they had been victims of theft and almost half of them admitted their property had been vandalized. Gang and non-gang members reported similar experiences with property crime victimization. Gang members were more prone to personal crimes than those who were not gang affiliated.
In conclusion, gang members are victimized more than non gang members. And gang members, rather than non-gang were more likely to be perpetrations of crime. Results of this study also indicated that some support for social disorganization theory to predict property and person crime offending, this is consistent with prior research. Furthermore results of this study suggested that social disorganization theory was less successful in accounting for property or personal crime victimization. Physical disorders, social disorders and collective efficacy were important factors related to offending, social disorder emerged as the one and only significant predictor of crime victimization.