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Although gang violence has been a problem in American culture since the earlier part of the 20th century, in the past twenty-five years, gang violence has risen to epidemic portions. However, most citizens, unless they are personally dealing with it, have no clue of gang culture and its successive violence. The sad observation is that most citizens aren't concerned or they don't recognize that there is a problem unless someone close to them is murdered as a result.
A lot of people think gangs are situated in poor neighborhoods of main city areas. That is not true. Relocation is apparent as gangs that were once restricted on the east and west coasts are found in other areas of the country. Gangs that were restricted in the city regions are now in middle class neighborhoods and even into upper class neighborhoods. There is hardly an area in America that is not affected by gang violence (Barkan).
Reasons for gang violence vary. An increase in the use of firearms, drug trafficking, worsening socioeconomic conditions, and a breakdown in socio-cultural institutions are some the reasons given by experts (Barkan). This paper will be discussing the effects of gang violence in America and what can be done to combat this escalating problem. Gang violence is detrimental and decimates communities and unless something is done about it, communities throughout America will continue to be under siege.
Gangs are not new. Crews have been around a very long time. The earliest records of a gang are the rebellious kids talked about in 2 Kings 2:23-25 of the Holy Bible (Barkan). From the late eighteen hundreds to the nineteen sixties, region gangs included fighting and adventure seeking for youths. The twenties showed an increase in gangs, when they were highly organized and recognized with the Prohibition Era. The development of gangs mixed up in criminal activities has persisted and is motivated by money (Barkan).
With civil conflict and dissatisfaction abound during the sixth decade of the 20th century, African American street gangs formed in large metropolitans like Chicago and Los Angeles. Many gangs in New York created designated names in the vein of the Savage Skulls, La Familia and Savage Nomads. An additional New York Street crew throughout this time were well-known as the Rampers has freshly take in the notoriety of one its members who is remembered as Sammy "the Bull" Gravano. By the end of the nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies, Crips gangs in Los Angeles were so aggressive and deep-rooted in ghetto communities that rival Bloods gangs formed to confront the strength of the Crips. In the meantime, Chicago experienced the formation of the Black Gangsters, Devil's Disciples and Black P Stones, to name some (Black Disciples). The late nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties paved the way for creation of nationwide gang alliances, expansion of national drug connections and the high regard of gangsters with films similar to Colors and Scarface.
By the end of the nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties, drug connections were in full force. The Drug trade from Southeast Asia and Colombia was its highest ever. The United States turns into the number one drug user in the world. Street gangs stretched into drug gangs with organized operations. Violence became standard measures for gangs. Around this time, gangs spread like wildfire. Squads like the Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips and GDs extended their weight across America (Barkan). Major cities were under distress from the crime linked to these gangs.
During the mid nineties, crime rates began to fall across the country. In spite of the decrease in crime, gangs were being created at an all time high (Barkan). Every year, the amount of gangs and gang affiliates accounted for in surveys grew larger. Major cities throughout the United States began to create approaches to fight gangs in their areas. In reality, statistics showed that the suburban gang problem had the greatest increase. By the late nineteen nineties, Super Gangs (multiple-state gangs) became well well-established in many American neighborhoods in spite of the falling crime rate (Gangs In Maryland).
Law enforcement efforts have targeted gangs across the nation and accomplished a lot in trying to get rid of gangs. In the year 2000, gangs showed an association of nearly one million affiliates. It exceeded one million in the year 2001 (Barkan). Gangs can relate to their own praise in the many rap music and videos that is seen in the media. This has given them more reputation rather than dishonor. Today's clothing and language of young people shows how much gangs have influenced black culture.
There are about four hundred thousand teen gang members of which ninety four percent are teen males and six percent or twenty four thousand are teenage females (Simpson). This would explain the commonness of school drop-outs. With joining a gang, dropping out of school, more or less happens. They convince other kids who might have turned alright. They also pressure non-gang members who often drop out because of the people they hang out with. If you are doing well in school and are not in a gang, kids affiliated with a gang would refer to you as being a "bitch". This might be because of your outfits and behavior. The "un-thuggish" look is wearing clothes that fit and normal looking hair and if you get great grades and are involved with school functions it only makes it bad in the views of people associated with gangs.
There are about eighty thousand female gang members in the U.S (Barkan). However, sixty percent of gangs don't allow female members. They are mostly at hand to give the gang a "good look". Girls mostly hang around to go to parties, but are not thought of as members. There are not a lot of female gangs. Only two percent of all gangs are made of women. The main reason females join gangs is for protection usually from other girls or from abuse from their fathers. Many females are becoming involved with gangs and some even have gang tattoos, teardrops, and scars just like the males (Simpson). Most females go to jail for drug use, larceny, petty theft and domestic issues like fights with their parents.
One of the leading risk factors for gang involvement in low income households is the absence of caring parents. Learning disabilities and emotional disorders are also factors. Sixty to seventy percent of incarcerated gang members have emotional and learning disabilities. In the school systems today, there is not a lot of help for those with these types of disabilities because of schools being overcrowded and the teachers being overworked.
The economic impact of gangs in America will have a tremendous affect on the spread of gangs in the future. If we don't get our economy together and start with hope at the top of the chain there will be no hope for those at the bottom and gangs will be on the rise. We must come together as a community and help each other to stop this nightmare! So if you can give a hand, give it, wherever it is needed if possible. Stay together and communicate with your neighbors to keep your neighborhoods safe and out of gang relations. Remember the best way out is to just say "NO!" in the beginning. So remember these facts and these tips and please stay safe.
Despite the belief that being in a gang and drug-dealing go together, the research that is there is somewhat conflicting (Simpson). New research concludes that bigger gangs can be labeled as "entrepreneurial gangs," that is, structured in money-making projects like drug deals. Most gangs are looked at as "street gangs," and are not thinking about money-making than other turf problems. Research accomplished in California show that there was a boost in drug deals by gang members that reflected high unemployment and the increase of the crack cocaine market in the nineteen eighties, but in general, drugs remain unimportant to the reason and activities of the gang.
Even though most gang members are not caught up in structured drug dealing, unease over drugs and violence associated to gangs is not unproven. Research shows that young gang members indulge in drug use more than non-gang members. In addition, criminal behavior rates, including the use of drugs, authorizations of violent crimes, and arrest rates, was at its highest for gang members.
Perhaps the most threatening aspect of gang production has been the growing use of guns. Gangs are revealed to have a lot more guns than other in danger youth. Research mentions the risk of an enemy gang, as the most important reason encouraging youth to have guns. Youth are provoked more by the reality that their contemporaries own guns, causing an increasing race for guns.
While gang violence has been declining, it is still around. The OJJDP in the Department of Justice offered a youth gang survey. The results from that survey included the subsequent numbers: every town with residents of 250,000 or more account for gang activities. 11% of rural areas account for gang activity. 35% of suburban areas account for gang problems. Half the homicides in Los Angeles and Chicago are related to gang violence. There are more than 25,000 gangs are active in the United States (Barkan). There are over 700,000 members of gangs in the United States. 94 percent of gang members are male. Only two percent of gangs are predominantly female. Only 40 percent of gang members are under the 18. Gang member demographics are: 47 percent Latino, 31 percent African American, thirteen percent white, seven percent Asian. Gun violence attributes to $100 billion a year in damages (Barkan).
Some facts about gang violence are most gang shootings are not accidental, nor are they only disagreements over drugs or some other illegal offense. The huge bulk of violent events concerning gang members continue to come from fights over territory, position, and vengeance. Different types of metropolitans (urban, suburban, etc) in Los Angeles, there is a lot of street gangs. Although a lot of the gang related murders were in the urban area, around the San Fernando Valley, the murder rate increased to 60% in 2001 because of gang violence.
Over the last hundred of years, many places in the world have been called the "gang capital". London, England, was given this title at first. Just before Los Angeles' civil war, New York was reported to accounted for 30,000 gang members. Many times, Philadelphia and Chicago were thought to be the gang capitals. All of these cities, with varying levels of achievement, have dealt with the problem and gave the title on to other cities.
People join gangs for a lot of reasons. Although gang members perform more types of crime than youth that aren't in gangs, a lot of gang members are not greatly involved in crime (Shakur). The majority gang members are not drug traffickers and most L.A. gangs are not structured drug distribution rings. Most gangs are loosely joined, with numerous members who fill guidance roles, depending on age and circumstances. Membership rise and fall and gang members have varying degrees of obligation to the gang. Gang cohesiveness is at its peak when the gang is confronted by other gangs or by authority.
Murders by gangs are greater than before as guns on the streets have grew larger. Drive-bys is a direct result of the obtainability of weapons. People wound people; guns murder people. Almost all police officers agree that gangs are a neighborhood problem that needs to be dealt with in an assortment of methods employed by police, schools, community-based organizations, public health officials and others in an interrelated and helpful approach to gang avoidance and method.
In Los Angeles gangs account for approximately 43% of all murders. Of the 1038 murders in 2004, 454 were involving gangs (Barkan). Los Angeles has long been well-known as the center of gang action all over the country. The latest estimates point to just about 1,350 street gangs, with as many as 175,000 affiliates in the Los Angeles' seven-county area of responsibility (Barkan). A lot of gangs which today have a countrywide existence, such as the Bloods, the Crips, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and 18th Street, can trace their beginnings to Los Angeles. The relocation of gang members from Los Angeles to other areas of the United States has led to a speedy increase of these gangs in many smaller suburban and rural areas not used to gang actions and its related crimes (Gangs In Maryland).
Chicago is going through another major gang problem. Chicago is undergoing huge area disturbance, as the removal of most of the CHA housing projects are putting many families out of place and gangs as well. The dislocation of gangs has helped contribute to violence as new neighborhoods are fought over and gangs are weakened by spatial disruption. The impact of removal of the CHA housing projects and community policing may be helping to the re-separation of Chicago and ultimately responsible for rising crime rate.
Congress had and idea to stop gangs and gang violence. In 2004 congress discussed the opposing gang bill, known as the "Gangbusters Bill". This proposed law would turn gang-related violent wrongdoing into a federal crime carrying a punishment of by at least ten years, increase the assortment of offenses carrying a punishment of death, and allow U.S. attorneys to prosecute 16 and 17 year old mob members as adults in federal courts.
One ill-fated outcome of this new bill is the subsequent jamming of federal penitentiaries. On June 30, 2004, research was conducted on the United States Federal Prisons. 2,131,180 inmates were in detention in federal or state penitentiaries or local prisons, a growth of 2.3% from 2003 statistics, and an estimated 486 inmates per 100,000 U.S. citizens had grew from the preceding 411 by 1995. Between 95 and 01, violent criminals were 63% of the prison population, while offenders of drugs added 15% of the overall increase of the state penitentiary population. Even with populace disagreements out-of-the-way, this political decision will only convince our more open-minded citizens of our government officials' unwariness, to truly believe jail will stop gangs and gang-related crime and bloodshed. The only thing the "Gangbusters Bill" would have done is surround them, possibly making it straightforward for them, given the then closer contact.
Another subject giving cause to throw up red light on this government problem is the fact that the bill will lend a hand in bringing the United States in the red even more. In 1992, Federal and State penitentiaries achieved an all-time high of 883,593 inmates and it was anticipated that roughly 1,143 bed spaces were required every week due to overcapacity. On an economic view, on average each inmate cost taxpayers $22,000 per year and the 883,593 inmates cost taxpayers in the area of $19.4 billion, not to mention an additional $61.7 million for the manufacturing of the 1,143 spaces needed (Barkan).
In conclusion gang problems are growing across America, even in small towns and urban areas. At the same time, the set up of gangs is changing. Smaller, less organized gangs are rising, and although drug dealing is usually not a well thought-out action ran by gangs; drug gangs are more foremost than in previous eras. The ethnicities makeup of gangs is changing, and gangs are becoming more prepared.
Gang violence -- mainly homicides -- has gone up due to the ease and the exercising of more risky weapons, especially automatic and semiautomatic handguns (Barkan). This violence also has been associated to gangs' liking to be related with drug dealing. New studies, though, questions the amount to which gang-related drug sales are the most important source of gang violence. It emerged that most gang violence is connected to problems with other gangs.
Most gang problems are domestic (Barkan). Gang relocation appears to add little to local gang troubles, including drug dealing, except within geographic regions (Gangs In Maryland). There is some inconsistency between studies and investigations in agency reports on youth and adult gang relocation and drug dealing; however, much of this can be put in plain words by the use of different study methods, definitions, and information origins.
Even though a considerable amount of progress is being made in recognizing the main risk factors for gang involvement, much more information is needed to identify the growth of which these risk factors work. This information will be very useful in the creation of prevention and intervention plans. Progress also is being made in creating wide-ranging programs that unite prevention, social involvement and treatment, and repression of gang violence. Since there is a shortage of program assessments, however, little is known about the helpfulness of these interventions.
A key issue in fighting youth gangs is providing a standardized definition for them -- separating them from difficult youth groups and adult criminal associations. Youth gangs and adult criminal gangs have dissimilar beginnings, and they serve unique reasons for the people involved. Efforts to create successful long-standing interventions must take these variations into explanation.