Understanding Gangs & Gang Processes

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National Major Gang Task Force EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Edward Cohn, Commissioner Indiana Department of Correction - (Retired) EXECUTIVE BOARD Salvador “Sam” Buentello - Secretary Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Lina Presley - Treasurer & Membership Director Indiana Department of Correction

Joe DeLaTorre California Department of Corrections - (Retired)

William Riley Washington Department of Corrections

James Gibson Arkansas Department of Correction

Donald Rothstein Minnesota Department of Corrections

Jack Holliday Dougherty Public School System - Albany, Georgia

Craig Trout Bureau of Prisons, Federal Bureau of Investigations

Frank “Paco” Marcell Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, Phoenix, Arizona

Daryl Vigil Colorado Department of Corrections

EXECUTIVE UEADERSHIP COUNCIL Michael Chabries, Executive Director, Utah Department of Corrections

Mike Maloney, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Correction

Michael Cooksey, Assistant Director, Correctional Programs Division, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Central Office

Brian Parry, Assistant Director, California Department of Corrections (Retired)

ACA LIAISON William Sondervan, Director of Professional Development American Correctional Association STATE COORDINATORS AK - Thomas Reimer - Department of Correction AL - Steven Watson - Alexander City Community Based Facility AR Ronnie Schwin - Department of Correction AZ - Todd Gerrish - Department of Corrections Canada - Julie Keravel - Correctional Serv ice of Canada Canada - Paul Downing - Ministry of Public Safety and Security CO - Tom Sullivan - Avalon Corrections Corporation CT - Luis Irizarry - Department of Correction DE - Janies Lupinetti - Department of Correction FBOP - Frank Wilson - Federal Bureau of Prisons FL - Michele Jordan - Department of Corrections GA - Jack Holliday - Dougherty County Public Schools HI - Larry Myers Department of Public Safety IA - Randy Day - Department of Corrections ID - Tim Higgins - Department of Correction IL - Rick Harrington Department of Corrections IN - Greg Walton - New Castle Correctional Facility KS - Roger Bonner - Department of Correction KY - Sharon Veech - Department of Corrections LA - Johnny Creed - Department of Public Safety and Corrections MA - Mark Reilly - Department of Correction MD - Michael Hoosier - Division of Corrections MI - Robert Mulvaney - Department of Corrections MN - Donald Rothstein - Department of Corrections MS - Kenneth North - Department of Corrections

MT - Mike Micu - Department of Corrections NC - James Moody - Department of Correction ND - Patrick Branson - Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation NE - Scott Strode - Department of Corrections NJ - Ron Holvcy - Department of Corrections NM - Daniel Lucero - Western New Mexico Correctional Facility NV - Geoff Swann - Department of Prisons NY - Michael Hogan - State Department of Correctional Services OH - Phil Vermillion - Department of Rehabilitation & Correction OK - Dan Reynolds - Department of Corrections OR - Benny Ward - Department of Correction PA - Ken Smith - Department of Corrections PR - Osvaldo Alvarado - Department of Corrections RI - Robert Catlow Department of Corrections SC - Eddie O'Cain - Department of Corrections TN - Eric Qualls - Department of Correction TX - Larry Citing Department of Criminal Justice UT - Eric Varoz - Department of Corrections VA - Lawrence "Bill" Dury, III - Department of Corrections VT - Gary Dillon - Department of Corrections WA - Terry Benda - Department of Correction WI - Joel Wagner - Dane County Sheriffs Office WV - Joseph Coy - Division of Corrections WY - Kenneth Keller - Department of Corrections


NMGTF Mission Statement_____________________ The National Major Gang Task Force is committed to providing leadership and information within the criminal justice system and other stakeholders to minimize the effects of security threat groups, gangs and terrorists in jails, prisons and communities. NMGTF History________________________________ First Meeting of the National Major Gang Task Force at the University of Houston First Annual NMGTF conference at Hartford, Connecticut Dale Welling, Federal Bureau of Prisons (Retired) becomes first Executive Director 2nd Annual Training Conference held in Houston, Texas 3rd Annual Training Conference held in Colorado Springs, Colorado NMGTF achieves 501 (c) 3, non-profit status NMGTF website is established at www.NMGTF.org 1998 4th Annual Training Conference held in Daytona Beach, Florida 1999 Verizon becomes major coiporate sponsor 5th Annual Training Conference held in Boston, Massachusetts 2000 NMGTF establishes Training Division at EKU, Tommy Norris, FBOP (Retired) becomes first Director 6lh Annual Training Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana 2001 Dale Welling retires as Executive Director. Ed Cohn, IDOC (Retired) succeeds him 7th Annual Training Conference held at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut First free standing office for the NMGTF established in Indianapolis First Task Force publication “From the Street to the Prison: Understanding and Responding to Gangs Job task analysis of Institution Security Threat Group Coordinator completed 2002 Association of State Correctional Administrators asked by Executive Director to appoint a State Coordinator to the Task Force First State Coordinators meeting held at EKU 8th Annual Training Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia National Gang Survey completed 2003 Second Task Force publication: “A Study of Gangs and Security Threat Groups in America’s Adult Prisons and Jails” Online certification program for security threat group coordinators pending 9th Annual Training Conference held in Cincinnati, OH Security Threat Assessment planned with NAGIA Third Task Force publication: “Understanding Gangs & Gang Processes” 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997


Acknowledgement______________________________ Projects such as this are never initiated and/or completed with one person handling the total responsibility. Of course, the author is of primary importance and we thank and appreciate Scott Decker’s willingness to work with the NMGTF in this regard.

But behind the scenes there is usually others involved in many ways. This publication is no different. From the beginning Tommy Norris, Becky Ritchey and Patti Naber, NMGTF Training Division at Eastern Kentucky University, handled the necessities. Since September, those responsibilities have been shifted to National Fleadquarters in Indianapolis where Ed Cohn, Lina Presley, and Dawn Stephens proofed the terminology, spelling, punctuation, design and secured the printer.

Our appreciation goes to everyone who worked in all capacities to make this monograph available to all of you.

Foreword This monograph is a follow-up to “From the Street to the Prison: Understanding and Responding to Gangs” authored by Scott H. Decker, Ph.D. and commissioned by the National Major Gang Task Force.

This is the third formal publication by the NMGTF since 2001. We believe that updated information will continue to assist those who have the professional responsibility of combating gangs and security threat groups in all realms of society. Another primary communication source is the Intelligence Bulletin provided quarterly for our members each year.

For additional information related to the NMGTF please contact the National Fleadquarters at: National Major Gang Task Force 338 S. Arlington Avenue, Suite 112 Indianapolis, IN 46219 317-322-0537 317-322-0549 fax [email protected] www.nmgtf.org. 4

Understanding Gangs & Gang Processes

By Scott

H.Decker, Ph.D.

Curator’s Professor o f Criminology>and Criminal Justice University/ o f Missouri - St. Louis 8001 Natural Bridge Road St. Louis, MO 63121-4499 314-516-5038 314-516-5048fax deckers @msx. umsl. edu

This publication is copyrighted by the National Major Gang Task Force. No reproduction of any part is authorized without the consent of the National Major Gang Task Force. For information regarding additional copies, please contact the National Headquarters at 317-322-0537.


Table of Contents 1.

NMGTF Leadership

p. 2


NMGTF Mission Statement and History

p. 3


Acknowl edgement






Title Page

p. 5


Table of Contents

p. 6 - 7





Gang Definitions

p. 9-10


An Evolutionary History of Gangs in the United States

p. 12


The Growth of Gangs in the United States

p. 14


The Growth of Gangs in Europe

p. 16


The Link between Gangs and Crime

p. 21


Gang Processes

p. 22


Joining the Gang

p. 22


p. 23

Roles in the Gang

p. 24

Participating in Gang Violence

p. 25

Leaving the Gang

p. 26-27

Correlates of Gang Involvement

p. 28

Gender and Gangs

p. 29-30

Gangs and Schools

p. 33


Characteristics of Gang Organization

p. 36


Mechanisms of Gang Diffusion

p. 37

Gang Processes

p. 37


Prison Gangs: Structure and Organization

p. 38-39


Key Prison Gangs

p. 40-41


Prison Gangs and Violence

p. 42


Table of Contents, continued 20.

Correctional Responses to Prison Gangs

p. 43-46


Intervention Strategies

p. 47

Spergel and Curry Strategies

p. 47-49

Gang Legislation

p. 49-50

Federal Policy and Gangs

p. 50

DHHS's Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program

p. 50

OJJDP's Comprehensive Gang Response

p. 51

The Spergel Model

p. 51


p. 51-52

The National Youth Gang Center

p. 52

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

p. 53

The Anti-Gang Initiative

p. 53-54

The Youth Firearms Violence Initiative (YFVI)

p. 54-55

Local Gang Strategies

p. 56

The Boston Gun Suppression Project

p. 56-57

The Illinois Gang Crime Prevention Center (GCPC)

p. 57-60



p. 60-61



p. 62-68


Gang Information Websites

p. 69


Introduction As street gangs grow in number across the United States (Klein, 1995), greater attention is focused on both prevention of new gang membership as well as intervention with existing gang members. This monograph responds to such concerns by highlighting the dynamic process Thrasher (1927) referred to as "ganging". This monograph begins with a review of several definitional issues regarding gangs, gang membership and gang crime, and places the growth of gangs in the United States in an evolutionary perspective. The monograph then moves to an examination of the links between gang membership and involvement in crime and delinquency, focusing particularly on involvement in violent crime and drug sales.

The primary focus of the monograph is on gang processes and the institutions that respond to gangs. Highlighting the role that these processes offer for opportunities for suppression, intervention and prevention, reviewing of gang processes that discusses joining the gang, initiation, assuming roles within the gang, participating in gang violence and leaving the gang is also included. The section that follows is a brief review of the major correlates of gang membership. The monograph then moves to a discussion of the organizational structure of gangs and the processes of gang diffusion. In conclusion, a discussion of intervention and prevention strategies, and their likely impact on that focus on gang processes.


Gang Definitions Most who are new to the study of gangs are surprised to find out that there is not an accepted definition of gangs or gang members. There is considerable debate about what constitutes a gang or gang members, and not surprisingly to a large extent the definition reflects the position of the person doing the defining. By this we mean that the occupation or perspective of an individual has implications for the elements of the definition that is offered. For example, corrections personnel offer a definition of gangs that includes much more serious forms of crime and violence than do the police. Juvenile justice workers typically include a much broader range of behaviors and individuals than do these groups, and community workers generally bring a less specific and broader still definition of a gang or gang member. It would be useful for many purposes to have a standard national definition of gangs, but this seems unlikely to occur. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is to have a broad set of characteristics that can have specifics added by relevant groups such as law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, school personnel or community groups. Though there is disagreement about the exact definition of a gang, there is general consensus that every definition of a gang must include a group. Some definitions of a gang specify the minimum number of members who meet a number of other criteria. Since most delinquent acts or crimes committed by juveniles are done in groups, distinguishing between groups and gangs is important, and more elements of a definition of gangs are needed. The use of symbols is a second element in defining gangs. Most gangs have symbols of membership. These symbols can take a number of forms, including hand signs and certain styles and ways of wearing clothing. Most gang symbols only have meaning within the gang, and an effort is generally made to keep the meaning of symbols from non-gang members. Communication is another common element of gang definitions. Most gangs have developed a series of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. Non-verbal forms of communication, such as hand signs or graffiti, can deliver a variety of messages, serving as an obituary page, announcing the presence of a gang or gang turf, and serving as an invitation to violence. The significance and role of graffiti varies across gangs, communities, and ethnic groups. In order to be defined as a gang, a group must have permanence. Many confederations of young people form over a single time-bounded issue only to disband. Most gang definitions require that the gang be in existence over a prolonged period of time generally a year or more. This permanence of gangs varies considerably, as some Chicago gangs have been in existence since the 1960’s, and other gangs in Los Angeles have been around for nearly sixty years. Most gangs in America are more recent than that, and many recent gangs have already vanished from the gang scene. A number of definitions of gangs include turf, or gang-identified territory, as a crucial element of the definition. Many contemporary gangs do claim some territory as their own, either because it is where the gang began, or where most of the members live. There is some controversy about this feature of gangs as some gangs do not claim turf, but otherwise meet all of the other criteria of a gang. A final element to defining a gang is involvement in crime. The key to distinguishing a gang from other groups is involvement in crime and most definitions of a gang include involvement in crime as a key feature of gang activities. Often the kinds of crime that gangs engage in involve drugs or violence, but not always. It should be noted that law enforcement definitions are typically more reliant on 9

involvement in crime as a characteristic of gang definition than those used by schools, social service systems or the juvenile court. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a Violent Street Gang/Drug Enterprise as a criminal enterprise having an organizational structure acting as a continuing criminal conspiracy, which employs violence and any other criminal activity to sustain the enterprise. This definition links the definition of gangs to violence and drugs, as well as an “enterprise.” As a consequence, gangs viewed from this perspective are more organized and more criminally involved than gangs from a variety of other definitional standpoints. It is not as difficult to define a gang member as it is to define a gang. The best indicator of who is in a gang often comes from self-identification or self-report. A number of other symbols and behavior can be used to distinguish gang members from non-members. Many police departments keep detailed records of the names of gang members. There can be shortcomings in police files, as information can be dated, based on misinfonnation, or fail to reflect changes in gang affiliation by individuals. Asking gang members and neighborhood residents, especially other youths or teachers, to identify ganginvolved individuals is another way to determine who is in a gang. The company an individual keeps can also be a key to establishing whether or not they are involved in the gang, though this is not a foolproof method. Gang members often bear the symbols of their gang affiliation in the form of tattoos. Gang members often affect a distinctive method of dress and demeanor, that at one time more clearly distinguished them from their non-gang peers. However, due to the influence of popular culture clothing style through the movies, music videos, and magazines, gang styles now enjoy widespread popularity across a broad range of youth.


An Evolutionary History of Gangs in the United States_____________ Urban industrial development in the latter part of the nineteenth century brought a large influx of European immigrants into American cities. The children of these immigrants often became members of groups that came to be identified as gangs. In the late 1800's, youth gangs emerged in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. In those decades, Italians and Irish immigrants were over-represented in the ranks of gang members. These gangs roamed the streets of their neighborhoods engaging in petty forms of property crime and conflict with members of rival gangs. These youth came from the lowest levels of the economic strata of their communities. There was an apparent decline in gang activity between the turn of the century and the 1920's. This and subsequent rises and declines in gang activity have led some researchers to hypothesize that gang activity in the U.S. follows decades-long cyclical patterns (Klein, 1995). These youth gangs were very different organizationally from the adult gangs of the prohibition era, though many organized crime figures were members of delinquent youth gangs before moving into organized crime. Based on his observations of Chicago gangs during the 1920's, Thrasher (1927) concluded that gangs developed out of the spontaneous playgroups of children and adolescents, and were strengthened by conflict with other groups and community adults. The major activity of gangs, he noted, was the search for thrills and excitement. Fighting was the predominant activity, and fights with members of one's own gang were as likely as those with members of rival gangs. During the Depression and World War II, the U.S. again experienced a decline in gang activity. When gangs re-emerged in the 1960's, they attained a different character. For the first time, large numbers of African-American, Puerto Rican, and Mexican-American youths were involved in gangs. Also, levels of violence were higher than in previous periods of gang activity. The increase in the lethality of gang violence can be attributed to guns and automobiles, a condition that would be magnified in the next great wave of gang activity. The most recent wave of gang activity emerged in the 1980's. At the beginning of that decade, gang problems were recognized in only a few large cities, particularly Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. By the end of the decade, gangs taking on the symbols and names of the Blood and Crip “nations” from Los Angeles, and the People and Folk “nations” from Chicago were appearing in large to medium size cities across the nation. Levels of violence were much higher than any previous wave of gang problems, corresponding with even more widespread availability of automobiles and firearms. The recent spread of gangs has been attributed on one hand to the emergence of an urban underclass separated from available economic opportunities, and on the other to the effects of popular culture that makes gang symbols, clothing, and language commodities available in large and small cities.


One of the changes to gangs over the past decade has been the involvement of new immigrant groups. Diego Vigil (2002) contrasts the experiences of Vietnamese and Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles with those of Hispanics and African-Americans. He establishes the differences in the cultural and historical experiences of these four groups by focusing on structural features of their lives, such as housing discrimination, civic exclusion and economic marginalization, as well as the culture conflict each group experienced settling in Los Angeles. For Mexican-Americans, decades of economic and residential marginalization and cultural de-valuation have led to economic and educational barriers that produce gangs and crime, in some cases inter-generational gangs that are the longest standing in the United States. Decades of historic discrimination against African-Americans have led to isolation and created conditions that spawn gangs and crime. Many of these black gangs have attained widespread notoriety and are emulated in many communities across the United States and the world. The Vietnamese experience in Los Angeles is decidedly different from Mexican-Americans and AfricanAmericans. Life in Los Angeles has eroded the greatest strength of Vietnamese immigrants, their family. Salvadorans arrived in Los Angeles largely as refugees; the product of emigration to the United States to avoid politically motivated violence. Their experiences have, in many ways, mirrored the political and economic exclusion of Mexican-Americans. Vigil uses economic and social marginalization theory to account for the experiences of each group. Vigil documents the role of the dominant cultural values of American society in shaping the lives of young men and women, ultimately leading to the emergence of gangs among the four ethnicities. Despite the substantial cultural, ethnic and historic differences among these four groups, the similarities are the most striking finding of the book. When it comes to the group processes such as motivations for joining the gang, initiation, involvement in conflicts, hanging out and leaving the gang, these groups have far more similarities than differences. Though there are some minor differences with regard to the form of these differences across groups, they are veiy similar with regard to their substance. He also makes it clear that the processes which seem endemic to American youth gangs affect even new immigrants, and in ways remarkably similar to ethnic groups that have a long history of residence in the United States. Vigil identifies four specific elements that spawn gangs among the groups that he studied: (1) (2) (3) (4)

adolescent grouping, typically by ethnicity the formation of oppositional groups group conflict a diminished stake in mainstream society - especially the economic section - termed marginalization by Vigil


The Growth of Gangs in the United States National surveys of law enforcement agencies provide the most widely accepted assessment of the magnitude of the U.S. gang problem. Unfortunately, not many such surveys existed prior to 1970. Miller (1975) reported that only 19 states had gang problems, representing only about 25% of all city populations. The two states with the largest gang population in 1970 (California and Illinois) retained their position in 1998, and were joined by Texas, Florida and Ohio. This finding of dispersion of gang problems among the states is an important theme in characterizing the changes in gangs over time. Such changes were reflected in the region of gang location, as gangs were located primarily in the West in the early 1970's with very few gangs in the South. By 1998, the South ranked second among the four regions, and had recorded a 33% increase in the number of gangs. A concomitant change occurred in the presence of gangs by city size. While the 1970’s gang surveys showed that gang existed almost exclusively in large cities, by the end of the century gangs were observed in cities of a variety of sizes and regional locations. Miller (2001) attributed these changes to the following specific causes: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Drugs immigration gang names and alliances migration government policies female headed households gang subculture media

In 1988, Irving Spergel and his colleagues found that 76 percent of 98 cities screened indicated the presence of organized gangs and gang activities. Reports from 35 of these jurisdictions documented 1,439 gangs and 120,636 gang members. In 1994, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention established the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) and in 1995, the NYGC conducted its first assessment survey of the national gang problem. Of 3,440 responding agencies, 2,007 reported youth gang problems. The 1995 survey revealed 23,388 youth gangs and 664,906 gang members, suggesting that the most recent wave of gang activity is the largest ever experienced in the nation’s history. The number of cities with gang problems identified by the NYGC increased dramatically between 1995 and 1996, with 3,847 cities reporting gang problems. Since that time, the number of cities with identified gang problems has declined gradually to 2,768 in 2000. The trend in the number of gangs has followed a similar pattern, peaking at 30,818 gangs in 1996, and declining gradually to 24,742 in the year 2000. The pattern for gang members is somewhat different, however. While the number of gang members rose dramatically between 1995 (644,906) and 1996 (846,428), it did not decline as dramatically from 1996 through 2000 as did the number of gangs or gang-problem cities. This suggests that many gangs are growing in size, even as the number of gangs declines. Howell, Egley and Gleason (2002) reviewed the NYGC data from the earlier national surveys of gang prevalence. Their report documents the increase in gangs across the last four decades. They describe the pattern of increase as a "cascade" across the years surveyed. This "cascade" applies to both the number of cities as well as the volume of gang members. In addition, the involvement of gang members in violent crimes was quite dramatic across this time period. Howell et ah, (2002) conclude that there


are important implications for programs from these findings. Specifically, they recommend that programs be crafted to respond to the specific nature of gang problems in a jurisdiction. An interesting aspect of the growth of gangs has been their growth in Indian Territories (Major and Egley, 2002). Nearly one-quarter (23%) of Indian communities indicated that in the year 2000 that gangs were present. The range of gangs in these communities ran from a low of 1 to a high of 40. The majority of gang members in Indian Country were male (80%), and not surprisingly, the majority (78%), were American Indian. Indian gangs seemed to have more female members than did urban street gangs, as local estimates indicated that roughly four-fifths of gangs included both male and female members. The most prevalent offense was graffiti, followed by vandalism, drug sales and assault. Overall, since 1980, gang problems have increased significantly in Indian Country. Gang problems grew from six percent in Indian communities in 1980 to 100 percent of Indian communities in 2000. The most recent survey of gang prevalence in America (Egley and Major, 2003) documents increased gang activity. The growth in gang activity is pronounced among large cities, but large cities have always been more likely to have gangs. The greatest percentage growth in the presence of gangs has been in smaller cities and towns. Perhaps most importantly, this survey documents the fact that the presence of gangs is associated with gang violence. That is, the higher the level of gang presence, the more likely a city is to experience gang violence, particularly gang homicide. It is also important to report that re-entry is an important issue for these cities. Nearly two-thirds of cities that reported a problem with gangs also reported problems resulting from the return of gang members from prison. In addition, four-fifths of jurisdictions indicated that they kept records on gang members and their activities. Taken together, these surveys indicate that gangs and gang problems have grown dramatically in the United States over the course of the past twenty years.


The Growth of Gangs In Europe Gangs are not confined to America. There are reports from law enforcement as well as social services and schools that gangs now operate in many of the nations that emerged from the breakup of the former Soviet Union and Soviet bloc nations. Credible reports of gangs in cities such as Sarajevo have been reported. In addition, Russia has a growing number of youth gangs as well as more organized adult crime groups that more closely resemble organized crime. Klein (1995) has documented the growing number of nations reporting gangs. He and his co-authors (Klein, Maxson, Weitekamp and JurgenKerner) have documented the growing number of nations plagued by emerging youth gangs. They note the role of popular culture, particularly in the export of American cultural images through movies, music, and other media on this development. Interestingly, Klein has referred to the recognition of gangs in Europe as the “Eurogang Paradox.” By this he means to call attention to the fact that by outward appearances, there are gangs in a large number of European countries, yet there is a reluctance to recognize their existence because they aren’t “American” gangs, or because of a reluctance to fan the flames of moral panic. Regardless of the reasons for this paradox, gangs are growing throughout European countries, and in particularly European ways. Over the last decade, gangs have been observed in most European countries. Typically, they utilize the symbols, style of dress, behavior and language of American gangs with adaptations to their host culture. In countries like Norway, Finland, Germany, England and the Netherlands, immigrant groups from countries that were once colonies have formed many emerging gangs. For example, in the Netherlands, residents from the Antilles and Aruba who are allowed to immigrate into the country often experience many of the challenges faced by immigrants to the United States. Jobs, housing and education are often more difficult for new immigrant groups to access. One consequence of such social and economic exclusion has been the formation of youth gangs. These gangs, particularly in the Netherlands, have adopted American gang styles. The book, Monster by Monster Cody (1994) was translated into Dutch in the late 1990’s and became a source of information for Dutch street gangs, particularly those from former Dutch colonies as well as Morocco (van Gemert, 2001). In Oslo (Lien, 2001), for example, Pakistani youth have formed youth gangs for protection as well as to engage in traditional forms of street crime, such as intimidation, assault, and shoplifting. Feixa (2003) reports street gangs in both Spain and Mexico. The former, known as tribus urbanas (urban tribes) appear to have emerged in Spain following the 1975 death of Generalissimo Franco. These groups have spread across Spain in the intervening quarter of a century. Chavos Banda (youth gangs) emerged in Mexico in the early 1980’s. The social organization of this latter group is entwined with the rapidly changing economy in Mexico, as well as the demographic and social characteristics of Mexican cities. More than thirty European cities reported the presence of gangs during the 1990’s (Klein, 2001) including England, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Russia, France, Belgium and Slovenia. Often these groups take on symbols of American gangs, including the names. Thus, it is reported that there are "Hoover Crips" (a well-known Los Angeles gang) in den Hague, the capitol city of the Netherlands. These gangs learn to behave like American gangs largely through the process of cultural transmission with movies, videos and books serving as the vehicles by which such transmission takes place. It is important to emphasize the cultural role and impact of American gangs as we attempt to understand gangs in other countries. Through movies, books, videos and magazines, many of the features of American gangs can be "exported" to other countries, just as raw materials and goods are exported. 15

However, there are some important ways that gangs in Europe differ from their American counterparts. First, guns are much more difficult to access in European countries, leading to much lower levels of gang violence. Further, access to cars is more restricted in most European countries, impacting mobility patterns. The drug scene is different in many European countries, with the more tolerant attitudes (and in some instances, laws) producing different street level drug markets, and thus roles for street and youth gangs. These three issues - guns, mobility, and drugs - change the nature of European gangs from their American counterparts, reducing their mobility and ability to profit from street sales of drugs. The responses to gangs in Europe are decidedly different than those in the United States. Responses to gangs rely on social opportunity approaches far more than suppression, the reverse of the situation in the United States. Though suppression is a part of the response to gangs in European societies, it is decidedly the second or third alternative. And even when the police are involved, as in the Dog Sledge Project and Jobmotivating Project in Copenhagen, Denmark, social opportunities receive first priority. In the Jobmotivating Project, police work closely with school officials and social authorities to find jobs, mentor youth, and work with families. This lead role for police in opportunities provision underscores the unique role that law enforcement plays in the less diverse European circumstances. A similar response can be found in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway (Carlson and Decker, 2003) where law enforcement plays a role that is much more supportive of social and educational adjustments than in the United States. This orientation is consistent with the broader social welfare organization of these nations as well as the generally lower level of crimes in such societies.


The Link between Gangs and Crime Gang members participate in a large number of serious delinquent and criminal acts. What is not always clear is the role that gang membership plays in such acts, as many gang members commit crimes that have nothing to do with their membership. The distinction between gang-related crimes and other crimes committed by gang members is important. We know that gang members are responsible for greater levels of crime and delinquency than their non-gang counterparts. In addition, we know that gang-related delinquency is more violent than non-gang related delinquency. There is considerable variation across time, communities, and gangs in the scope and nature of gang-related crime and delinquency. Many of these studies show that having a family member in a gang increases the chances of other family members being involved in a gang. We draw these conclusions from field studies of gang activity, analyses of criminal justice data, and survey studies of gangs. Frederic Thrasher (1927) found that gangs originated from the spontaneous group activity of adolescents and patterns of association were strengthened by conflict over time. In its earliest stage, the gang was diffused, little leadership existed, and the gang might have been short lived. Some gangs progressed to the next stage, where they became solidified. Conflict with other gangs played a notable role in this process, helping to define group boundaries and strengthen the ties between members, uniting them in the face of threats from rivals. For groups that failed to make the transition to legitimate activities, delinquent or criminal activity became the dominant focus of the group. Short and Strodtbeck (1965) working in the Chicago setting decades later, emphasized the importance of the gang as a unit of analysis. They described the community context, relationships among gang members, and the social characteristics of gang members that influence the degree to which gangs varied in their level of conflict orientation. Two concepts central to their perspective on gangs were threat and status. Klein’s (1971) evaluation of two programs, the Group Guidance Project (1961-1965) and the Ladino Hills Project (1966-1968) formed the basis of his earliest analysis of gangs. He found that delinquency increased among gang members who received the most group-oriented services, and that solidarity among gang members seemed to increase as a result of the attention paid to the gang by street workers. Based on these results, Klein concluded that gang intervention programs might enhance the attractiveness of gangs, and increase their solidarity, thereby promoting violence. Klein found that criminal offending among gang members was cafeteria-style; that is, gang members rarely specialized in committing certain forms of crime, and generally committed a variety of offenses. It is important to note that gangs which are characterized by cafeteria-style offending are likely to develop in ways that are far different than those which have specialized patterns of offending. Specialized gangs, while rare (Maxson and Klein, 1995), present more serious problems for juvenile justice, law enforcement, and corrections personnel. Moore (1978) has conducted the longest ongoing field research with gangs. She places primary importance on the role of Chicano culture, and the position of Mexican-Americans in the cultural and institutional life of East Los Angeles to explain gang formation and activities. The detachment of Chicano culture from mainstream social and political life was the foundation of her explanation of gang life and criminal involvement. After fighting, drugs played a prominent role in the life of gangs. Vigil (1988) spent three years compiling 67 life histories of gang members in Los Angeles. Like Moore, he 17

emphasized the role of Chicano culture in the formation of gangs, pointing to choloization, the process which Chicano marginalizes youth from mainstream society. The street provides an alternative socialization path for these youths, leading to increased involvement in crime and delinquency. Because gang members share many negative experiences the gang provides a collective solution to the problem of identity. Hagedorn (1988) explained the origin of Milwaukee gangs by noting that most gangs in his city emerged on a more or less spontaneous basis from corner groups, young men who hung out together in their neighborhoods. Others emerged from dancing groups that experienced physical threats and fighting, strengthening their alliances, ultimately resulting in gang formation. All of these groups, however, were affected by the presence of an underclass. The lack of available jobs in the legitimate economy led gang members to seek economic solutions in the illegal drug market. Decker and Van Winkle conducted a field study of gang crime in St. Louis (1994, 1996). Their work described gang structures and processes combine local neighborhood dynamics and the national-level diffusion of gang cultures. St. Louis neighborhood rivalries that dated back for decades and contemporary friendship networks were transfigured into a system of conflict structures that bear the names and symbols of California's longstanding conflict between the Bloods and Crips, with occasional symbolic manifestations of Chicago gang culture. Their research underscored the cafeteria-style offending patterns of gang members, while emphasizing the ever-present violence in gang life. In addition, the presence of an older sibling or extended family member in a gang influenced the likelihood of other family members becoming involved in a gang. Two additional field studies of gangs bear mention at this juncture. The first was conducted by Venkatesh (1997) in a Chicago public housing complex. Venkatesh examined the process by which the dominant gang operating in the complex attempted to transform itself into more of a corporate structure while it expanded its role into quasi-legitimate activities. Working on the periphery of legitimacy, this gang became involved in making loans to residents, posting bonds, providing groceries, and other low level services. In return, the gang received tacit support for its illegal activities, and was considerably less likely to be informed on by residents. Their level of organization and further legitimacy was ultimately undermined by the inability of the gang to maintain their drug business, which was the primary source of revenue used to secure cooperation from local residents. The second field study of significance in this context was Fleisher’s work with a gang in north Kansas City (1998). Working in the tradition of an anthropologist, Fleisher immersed himself in the life of the Fremont Hustlers. The central actor in this gang was a young woman who was the product of a fragmented family living in a crime-riddled section of Kansas City that offered little in the way of alternatives to the criminal opportunities that abounded in her neighborhood. This young woman and her friends had numerous interactions with the police, some of which led to arrest and convictions, particularly among the males. Indeed, this young woman was locked in a detention facility or hospital seven times before reaching the age of majority (17) in Missouri. Fleisher focuses considerable attention on the abuse experienced by the young girls in and around the gang, and the dependence which males developed toward these women. There was little organizational structure to this gang or its activities.


Analyses of local law enforcement data also provide a picture of gang-related crime and delinquency. Maxson, Gordon, and Klein (1985) examined Los Angeles Police and Sheriffs Department records to document differences in social characteristics that exist between gang and non-gang homicides. Gang homicides were more likely to involve minority males, automobiles, take place in public places, involve the use of firearms, and a greater number of participants. Gang homicide perpetrators and victims were significantly younger than their counterparts involved in non-gang homicides, but they were older than the typical youth gang member. Curry and Spergel (1988) identified a number of characteristics that distinguished gang crimes from non-gang crimes in Chicago. Social variables, particularly ethnic composition and poverty, were significantly related to differences in homicide rates across areas and time. The Blocks (1993) used Chicago Police Department incident data to study patterns of lethal and non-lethal gang-related violence over time. Their work demonstrated that (1) gang violence is more likely to be turf-related than drugrelated; (2) patterns of violence of the four largest established street gangs and smaller less established gangs were different, and (3) guns were the lethal weapons in practically all Chicago gang-related homicides between 1987 and 1990. Curry and Spergel (1992) studied middle school students in Chicago to determine the nature of the socialization to gangs. They found differences between the variables that predicted gang involvement between Latinos and African-Americans. Latino gang involvement was associated with social psychological variables and school and peer groups, while African-American gang involvement was associated with exposure to gang members. Curry (1994) analyzed longitudinal police data on the population over the five years following the initial survey, and found that the study population was at extreme risk for involvement in serious gang-related crime. As with other research, the number of offenses attributed to gang delinquents in the study population far exceeded those attributed to non-gang delinquents. Another source of information on the gang-crime nexus has been surveys of populations of at-risk youth. Fagan (1989) interviewed high school students and dropouts in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The samples were predominantly African-American and Hispanic, and mixed in terms of males and females. Gang members committed more delinquent acts than did non-gang members, as well as more serious offenses. Overall, he concluded that gang members, male and female, had more serious delinquent involvement than non-gang youths. Three longitudinal studies on the effect of gang membership on delinquency shed considerable light on the influence of gangs on behavior. Longitudinal studies of youth in Denver (the Denver Youth Survey, Esbensen, Huizinga and Wieher, 1993; Esbensen and Huizinga, 1993), Rochester (The Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) Thornberry et ah, 1993, 2002) and Seattle (The Seattle Social Development Project, Battin et ah, 1998). These studies offer several conclusions about the relationship between gang membership and crime. Gang membership increases the level of criminal and delinquent behavior on the part of its members. That is, while individuals are in gangs, their level of criminality increases compared to the period of time before they joined the gang. Similarly, their level of criminality declines once they leave the gang. This reinforces the conclusion that the gang itself contributes to levels of crime, not just that gangs attract individuals already involved in crime. The group context of gang behavior provides support and opportunities for members to engage in more illegal behavior as well as more serious illegal behavior.


In a longitudinal survey of an at-risk youth population in Denver, Esbensen et al., (1993) identified factors that differentiated gang and non-gang youths, the involvement of gang members in delinquent activity, and the relationship between criminal offending and gang membership. Gang members do not differ from other youth involved in serious street level offending on factors such as commitment to delinquent peers and commitment to positive peers. While gang membership was rare among the Denver respondents, gang members reported two or three times as much delinquency as non-gang members. When gang members in the Denver study were asked what kinds of activities their gang was involved in, fighting with other gangs was the most frequently reported behavior. From the longitudinal survey results on a representative sample of Rochester youth, Thornberry and his colleagues (1993; 2002) found that gang-involved youths were significantly more likely to report involvement in violence and other delinquency. By following youths over time, their analysis showed gang involvement to be a transitional process with delinquent activity increasing during gang involvement and declining afterward. Thornberry, et ah, (1993) suggest three alternative explanations of gang delinquency: (1) a kind of person model, (2) a social facilitation (or kind of group) model, and (3) enhancement (or interaction of person and group) model. They find most support for the conclusion that gang members commit more delinquency than non-gang members and that individuals commit more delinquency while gang members than before or after their gang membership. Thornberry finds strongest support for the social facilitation model. Findings from the Seattle Social Development Project are consistent with these findings. As the work of Battin, et al., (1998) showed, gang membership increases delinquent involvement, even when the influence of having delinquent friends is controlled. These studies use a powerful methodology and offer solid support for the conclusions that crime and delinquency increases while individuals are members of a gang, and is lower before membership and after membership. The work of Kent and Felkenes (1998) underscores the conclusions reached above. Most importantly, however, Kent and Felkenes underscore the fact that among Vietnamese gangs, membership in a gang enhances delinquency. In addition, a large proportion of Asian gang delinquency in Orange County California was found to be gang delinquency. Interestingly, Kent and Felkenes (1998) found that culture had less important instrumental issues for gang involvement. When youth had a gang member in their family, they were much more likely to join a gang and become involved in delinquent activity. Recently, Maxson and Klein (1985; Klein, 2002) have developed five “scenarios” of gang types as a means to classify gangs. Traditional gangs are large, territorial and have been in existence for some time, perhaps as long as a full generation. They have internal groupings that reflect age or area affiliational ties, and claim territory. Neotraditional gangs are similar to traditional gangs, save for their being in existence for roughly half as long and being somewhat smaller in size. Compressed gangs, as their name implies, are small (roughly 50 members) and do not develop subgroups. They also have much less internal variation with regard to age and function. The Collective gangs number close to 100 members, with some diversity in age, but with a less distinguished organizational structure. Subgroups don’t develop in collective gangs, reflecting their lack of structural or organizational characteristics. Finally, Maxson and Klein identify the Specialty gang, a small collective gang that focuses on a specific set of offenses. Such gangs tend to be new in existence, but do have territory. These structures may prove useful both for classification purposes as well as for formulating responses to gang problems.


These studies underscore the role of gang membership and gang processes in enhancing involvement in crime and delinquency. This conclusion seems to be true for a variety of demographic (age, race, gender) and social factors such as socioeconomic status, employment, region, and educational level. It is especially important to note the increasingly important role of drugs for many gang members. The sales of drugs, while independent enterprises for most young street gang members, become more organized with age and imprisonment.


Gang Processes A critical point about the gang experience is that it is a dynamic process, one that changes over time and across individuals. This section reviews such issues as joining the gang, initiation, getting rank in the gang, and leaving the gang. In addition, it very briefly examines the correlates of gang involvement, such as age, race, and socio-economic status of gang members. This section concludes with a discussion of the organizational characteristics of the gang, including the presence of leaders, rules, roles and meetings. There is no single path that gang members follow, rather their experience is mediated by a variety of factors, including demographic correlates of membership. This section makes clear the importance of expressive motives for many gang member activities. Many social scientists distinguish between expressive and instrumental motives. Instrumental motives typically exist for activities with a welldefined goal or outcome, and are motivated to achieve those outcomes. Working toward the goal of saving money for a car or committing a burglary for money to buy a gun are both examples of instrumental motives. Expressive motives, on the other hand, reflect the desire to achieve some emotional state, redress a wrong (real or imagined), or express some strongly felt passion. Heat of the moment killings or “exacting revenge” are two good examples of expressive motives. Joining the Gang No single path exists that tracks the reasons or the process by which individuals come to join a gang. But two key issues to understand in this context are whether individuals are pulled or pushed into gang membership, and whether their decision to join had an expressive or instrumental motive. Young people who are pulled into membership join their gang because of the attractions it offers to them, attracting them to the gang with the promise or expectation of friendship, opportunities to make money, or the ability to provide financial remuneration for people in their neighborhood. These are typically instrumental motives. Being pushed into the gang implies a very different motivation for joining the gang. Individuals who see themselves as pushed into gang membership join their gang out of fear for physical consequences at the hands of local gangs. If they do not join the gang, they see themselves as powerless to resist the temptations of gang life such as money or prestige, or because of a desire to even a score with another individual who may have harmed them or a person they care about. These individuals give evidence of expressive motives for joining their gang. The nature of joining the gang has important implications for the process by which individuals come to leave their gang, as well as for the activities that they may engage in while a gang member. There is considerable evidence to bear on this distinction, a distinction that is important because it can help to orient the nature of responses to the gang problem (Klein, 1995; Spergel, 1995; Decker and Van Winkle, 1996). And most of the available evidence supports the view that individuals are pulled toward their gang because of what they see as the positive features of gang involvement. Most gang members report in field studies that they joined their gang to be with their friends because a number of their friends were members. Teenagers have a powerful urge 22

to be around their friends, and adolescence is a time in life when the need to affiliate with ones peers and reject or minimize the importance of relationships with parents is great. So this should come as no great surprise. But hanging out with friends is not the only motivation for joining the gang. Indeed, a number of commentators (Skolnick, 1990; Sanchez-Jankowski, 1990; Padilla, 1992) report that the gang is a magnet for prospective members because of the prospect of making money, typically through drug sales, but often through other crimes such as robbery or burglary. These opportunities do not require long hours, hard work, and slow progression through the ranks. Drug sales, whether by gang members or others, produce quick profits, and are consistent with the desire for quick gratification that characterizes many adolescents’ views of the relationship between work and money. Money provides other secondary attractions to gang membership, particularly as the presence of money allows one to satisfy consumer needs (food, movies, CD’s, etc.), and to impress members of the opposite sex. There are other attractive features to gang membership that pull young people toward the gang, particularly for many ethnic groups. In many communities, especially Latino and Hispanic, gangs represent a source of cultural pride and identification. Moore (1988), Vigil (1990), and Padilla (1992) all document the important role that gangs play in these communities in providing support for the neighborhood and broader cultural values. Though it is true that many individuals are pulled into gangs because of the attractive features of membership, a substantial fraction of young people are pushed into their gang seeking protection, either from rival gangs or just from the violence that lurks in many urban neighborhoods. Padilla (1992) and Decker and Van Winkle (1996) report that living in neighborhoods or attending schools with active gang members often produces the expectation that most young men are affiliated with a gang. Many young men in these studies reported that they joined their gang because the got tired of being accused of being a member of one gang or another. Certainly living in a neighborhood dominated by one gang may lead outsiders to presume gang membership over time. But there is a more troubling reason that compels many young people to join their gang, fear of the consequences of not being a member. Quite simply, some individuals are targeted for membership, either because of where they live, who they are, or the perception that they can be coerced into gang membership. This is especially likely in those neighborhoods where gangs dominate the local scene. Initiation Regardless of the motivation for joining the gang, becoming a member typically takes place over time, and the individual takes on a gang identity in a process with a number of steps. But once the decision has been made to join the gang (or as we noted for some cases, coerced) the next important step in the gang process is initiation. Most gangs have an initiation process, and there is variation in the nature of initiation rituals. Most are rather crude with few formal aspects to them, and most involve some form of violence, typically by current members of the gang directed against the initiate. It is important to note that most groups have rituals, particularly those that are focused on the process of entering the group.


The most common form of initiation reported is that of being beaten in. Observers of the gang scene in Los Angeles, San Diego, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee (among other cities) report that this is the preferred method in most gang initiations. In this scenario, the individual being initiated either stands in the middle of a circle and must fight their way out, or must run between two lines of gang members (also known as the gauntlet) who pummel them with their fists, feet, and occasionally other objects like bricks, rocks, and sticks. These initiations are often quite brutal, but end with hugs for the new member and the offering of a few words of unity for the gang. The fact that violence is a part of the very first experience within the gang is quite important. It sends a symbol to the new gang member that violence is important to the gang, is expected of all members, and constantly lurks beneath the surface of gang life. This is not the only way that youth come to join their gang. Cureton (2002) also reports that “getting ink” (i.e., being tattooed) is often a criterion for initiation into the Los Angeles gang that he studied. Oftentimes, an older recruit or the sibling of a current gang member will be required to go on a "mission" against a rival gang. While this can take a variety of forms, it typically required the recruit to fight or shoot a rival gang member, or conduct a crime such as robbery in rival gang territory. Most observers of the girl gang scene report that girls tend to be initiated in the same way that boys are, through beating in, often by both boys and girls. A number of highly publicized reports document rapes of prospective female gang members. However, there is not widespread support for this as the typical method by which girls are initiated into their gangs. Rather, the pattern that occurs for boys and girls appear to be a similar one. Roles in the Gang Here, we document the process by which individuals move from one status in the gang to a higher status. In a sense, this discussion emphasizes the process of moving from initiation rituals to role transitions. It is useful to think of the concept of "rites of passage" as a means of characterizing the movement through the various stages of gang membership. The initiation allows the member to be accepted, and the movement between roles reflects the transitions as individuals find their place and develop within the organization. Most gangs are not very well organized, however, there are distinctions within the gang between the status and functions of members. Indeed, a few gangs in chronic gang cities like Chicago have both consequential and well-defined distinctions between roles. The process of acquiring rank is based primarily on length of time in the gang, blood relationships with current leaders, and level of criminal activity. Older gang members who have logged a considerable number of years as a member of their gang (perhaps as many as five or six years) are in a position to obtain rank, and as a consequence be afforded special status and perform unique duties. Often referred to as OG’s or original gangsters, these individuals hold the distinction, among many, of having lived through a number of years of gang life. Other ranks are typically identified by their function, whether that function is to provide drugs, guns, cars, or engage in specific behaviors such as selling drugs, using drugs, or participating in


shootings. But younger members who have a sibling who is a leader or otherwise influential role in the gang may also be accorded rank. And finally, those whose criminal exploits, typically involvement in violence or drug sales, are particularly noteworthy may also be accorded such status. It is important once again to note that most groups, whether they are loosely or strongly organized, have such gradations in membership. Rank brings certain obligations and expectations with it. Those with higher rank may carry out certain ceremonial functions of the gang such as the initiation or enforcing certain rules. These individuals are most likely to conduct what little planning does take place within the gang. But there is a symbolic function to rank, and that is to reinforce to younger or newer members the significance of the history of the gang, and gang members who may have died, gone to prison or become separated from the gang for some reason. It is important to examine what gang members say about the different roles in their gang. As noted above, gangs in emerging gang cities tend to have fewer roles than do gangs in established gang cities, and those roles tend to be not very well defined. Such gangs, in cities like Milwaukee, San Diego, San Antonio, Miami, Kansas City, and dozens of other American cities (Curry, Ball and Decker, 1996; Decker, Bynum and Weisel, 1998) confirm this observation. Indeed, in many of the interviews conducted with gang members in these cities, individuals could not identify specific roles. However, interviews with Gangster Disciples (GD) from Chicago (and to a lesser extent Latin Kings), two of the best-organized gangs in the country, revealed quite a different picture. GD’s could identify different roles by name and job, and knew what level of achievement or qualification was required to move from one role to another. Different roles brought prestige, but could only be earned through time spent in rank and accomplishments. These observations suggest a much more organized gang than is found in most emerging gang cities, and also reinforces the greater extent to which gang members in organized gang cities (Chicago is the two best example) are involved in organized crimes. While many have attempted to equate gangs with organized crime, these comparisons fall short when the development of gang roles and level of gang organization is taken into account. Participating in Gang Violence As mentioned earlier, violence is an important part of the gang experience. And violence can play diverse roles. It is the motivation for many young people to join their gang, is typically part of the initiation, and is ever present in the lives of most gang members. Understanding the role of violence in the gang is a key to learning more about the gang experience. There is considerable evidence to show that gang members are the victims and perpetrators of violence. And the story about gang members as victims of violence is quite sobering. In Chicago, the number of gang-motivated homicides between 1987 and 1992 increased five-fold, and in Los Angeles County the number doubled in that period of time. Most large cities with gang problems reported that in the early 1990’s an increasing proportion of their city’s homicide victims involved gang members. Some cities like Chicago and St. Louis report that about one in four homicide victims are gang members. Los Angeles County reports that nearly half of its homicide deaths were gang members. In Decker and Van Winkle's (1996) study of St. Louis gang members, 27 of the 99 subjects who participated in their study are now dead. This reinforces the heavy toll that gang violence exacts on its members.


Interestingly, the victims of gang crimes resemble the offenders in gang crimes. These two groups have a good deal in common in terms of their race, age, gender, and socioeconomic status. It is important to observe as well that victimization is an important predictor of involvement in offending. The 1990’s saw large surges in homicide and other forms of violence committed by gang members. The homicides committed by gang members have several distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other victims. First, gang violence is more likely than other crimes of violence to involve firearms, particularly handguns. And the victims of gang homicide resemble their killers; that is, the victims of gang homicide are more likely to be of the same race, age, sex, and neighborhood as the people who kill them. Surprisingly, most gang homicides lack a relationship to drug trafficking. Instead, gang homicides seem to be motivated by revenge or battles over turf. But what accounts for gang violence? These battles are rendered more lethal by the presence of more guns and more powerful guns. A number of observers have noted that the rise in crack cocaine trafficking in the mid-1980’s produced the need for protection, usually in the form of guns. As the demand for guns increased, they became more plentiful, thus creating the need for more guns for self-protection. The presence of additional guns in the community has an escalating effect, increasing the likelihood that other young people would seek to own a gun. Support for this position comes in part from a study of over 8,000 arrestees who were interviewed shortly after their arrest. Gang members reported that they were more likely to own a gun, carry a gun most or all of the time, and have been victims of gun violence. Some have called this process contagion, spreading through communities much like a disease would. Violence has other important consequences that may not be quite as visible. Violence helps to hold the gang together. Many students of gangs have observed that the primary sources of gang solidarity are external to the gang and don’t come from inside the gang. In practice, the threats posed by rival gangs, and sometimes police and other adult officials, help to increase cohesion among gang members. It isn’t hard to imagine that a pending attack from a gang in another neighborhood would create the need for cooperation and dependence among gang members. And oftentimes, after a violent act real or imagined gang members meet to discuss their role, discussions that help to create a legend for the gang, further tying them to each other. It is important to note that threats of violence serve many of the same functions for law-abiding groups such as the army or neighborhood groups, and are not confined to gangs. Leaving the Gang There is considerable mythology about this aspect of gang life. Media reports argue that it is impossible to leave the gang or that in order to do so, a particularly heinous crime must be committed. Gang lore provides stories that gang members must kill one of their parents if they ever want to leave the gang. Most of the available evidence dispels these myths. Studies of gangs from a number of cities, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Diego, St. Louis, report a large number of ex-gang members. And interviews with former members document that most of them simply quit their gangs in the same way they ended other affiliations by reducing the number and intensity of their interactions with such groups. Decker and Lauritsen (2000) interviewed two-dozen former gang members in St. Louis, and found that most quit their gang simply by announcing their intentions to do so, and leaving. In


reality, acting out that decision was somewhat more difficult, as the gang represented the source of many friends and the source of important relationships and activities. Few of those who left the gang reported that they faced physical consequences for doing so, though a few former members said that they were threatened with violence but that the threats were never carried out. Interestingly, most of those who left their gang continued to associate with members of their old gang. Motivations for leaving the gang are also important to understand. The St. Louis sample of ex-members cited their concerns about escalating violence as one of the reasons they decided to end their affiliation with the gang and move on with their life. Key in this process was the witnessing of a violent act committed against a fellow gang member, or being a victim themselves. Others reported that the obligations of life, such as a job, becoming a parent, or getting older, were the key reasons that motivated them to end their relationship with the gang. As noted earlier, longitudinal research has concluded that the level and seriousness of crime declines (Thornberry, Krohn, Lizotte, and Chard-Wierschem, 1993; Esbensen and Huizinga, 1993) when individuals leave the gang. In addition, this longitudinal research provides estimates that the average length of time an individual belongs to a gang is a little over one year. This underscores the critical role of moving individuals out of gangs; as such activity is likely to yield dividends in crime reduction. This finding also serves to dispel myths that individuals cannot exit their gangs once they have become members. Interestingly, the crime reduction benefits from ending gang membership may be substantial and represent an important avenue of intervention.


Correlates of Gang Involvement Who joins gangs, and what does the typical gang member look like? These are questions that there are no easy answers for. However, it is possible to identify major correlates of gang membership such as age, race, socio-economic status, family and region of location. In this section of the manuscript we address these issues. Age is a primary correlate of gang membership. Gang members range across a wide variety of ages, but typically are teenagers. It is not easy to pinpoint a single age as the average age of gang members, but a number of studies identify seventeen or eighteen as the average age of members in their sample. As the gang phenomenon in the United States matures, and the age distribution of members spans a larger number years, it is reasonable to expect that the number of older gang members will grow. Such an occurrence produces different problems for communities that are attempting to intervene and do something about their gang problems than when facing younger members. There is considerable concern that racial and ethnic minorities are over-identified as gang members, largely as a consequence of the use of police data to identify gang members. National surveys of police departments provide strong evidence that racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans and Hispanics are the primary members of gangs. Though field studies purposely target a specific gang or neighborhood, collectively they generally support the view derived from surveys of police that show African-Americans and Hispanics dominate gang membership. The results from surveys provide a somewhat different picture from that provided by from police and field studies. Esbensen and Huizinga (1993), Battin et ah, (1998) and Thornberry, Krohn, Lizotte, Farnworth and Jung (1991) found that whites comprised a larger percentage of gang members than was the case for the police surveys. And Thornberry's Rochester studies reported findings consistent with the work from Denver. These results suggest that racial minorities, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, comprise the majority of gang members in the United States, but that school survey data reveal higher percentages of white gang members. In addition, most gangs tend to be comprised of members of a single ethnic group. However, there is evidence (Decker and Van Winkle, 1996) that this is a characteristic of neighborhood composition more than racial preference. The next correlate of gang membership we consider is the socio-economic status of members. It is not surprising that the majority of gang members come from the lowest socio-economic groups in American society. This was the case for the three earlier gang cycles in our country’s history. And a number of commentators (Jackson, 1991; Hagedorn, 1988; Decker and Van Winkle, 1996) have observed that gangs are located in cities and neighborhoods with large concentrations of urban poor, often the urban underclass. This observation seems a logical consequence of the historical characteristics of gangs, but there is evidence that gang membership is more complicated than socio-economic status. The emergence of gangs in suburbs and rural areas presents a challenge to the view that gang members are drawn exclusively from the poorest members of society. There is considerable evidence (Maxson and Klein, 1994) that gangs have migrated well beyond poor inner city neighborhoods to suburban and rural locations. What was once thought to be a problem only for the inner city has spread to the rest of the nation.


Gender and Gangs Prior to the 1980’s there was little interest in female gangs or gang members. However, in the 1980's, interest in females in gangs began to grow and continues today. However, there remains debate about how many girls are in gangs, what they do in those gangs, the nature of gangs with female members, and the impact of gang membership on women. Walter Miller proposed in 1975 that ten percent or less of the gang members in the cities that he studied were females. Indeed, none of the cities even had ten percent of gang members who were females. Interestingly, New York City police estimated that half of their city’s male gangs had female auxiliaries, yet females were believed to account for only six percent of all gang members. This situation has changed somewhat, though police estimates of the number of girl gang members remain lower than other sources of such information. Thirty-four police agencies responding to the 1988 National Gang Survey estimated that there were a total of 4,803 female gang members. This number increased to 70,486 in 1996 and had decreased to 41,769 by 2000. Chesney-Lind, Shelden and Joe (1996) argue that females have been generally invisible as gang members to law enforcement. Perhaps this is due to the lower levels of female gang crime compared to their male counterparts. Esbensen and David Huizinga (1993) reported that 25 percent of gang members identified in their Denver survey were females, a figure considerably higher than law enforcement data, and one supported by Peterson et al., (2001) in their multi-city sample. Law enforcement data reinforces the fact that male gang members are more heavily involved in violent offenses than are female gang members. Walter Miller (1975) classified female gangs into three types: (1) female auxiliary gangs affiliated with male gangs, (2) mixed sex gangs with both male and female members, and (3) independent or autonomous female gangs. His results suggested that in the seventies and eighties, the most common of these types was the female auxiliary to a male gang, and the rarest of gangs were independent, autonomous female gangs. Most contemporary research supports these conclusions about the structure of gangs that involve females. Some of the views of girl gangs came from Thrasher (1927) who wrote that girls simply did not form or participate in gangs. He even gave some consideration that there was some sort of “ganging instinct” that was found among boys but not among girls. Ultimately, he concluded that two social factors prevented girls from being involved in gangs in the ways that boys were. The first of these factors was the traditions and customs of contemporary life that restricted the involvement of girls. The second factor was the higher level of parental supervision of girls rather than boys. But when girls did get involved in gangs, they were seen as aberrations, such as tomboys from Thrasher’s perspective.


The work of Campbell (1984) with three New York City female gangs began to dispel some of the early myths about female gang membership. She arrived at two major conclusions about female gang involvement. The first conclusion was that males play a major role in getting females involved in gangs and gang-related crime. Her second conclusion was that female gang involvement leads to greater solidarity among women in the gang, and in this manner provides a liberating experience. Moore (1991) studied female gang members within the larger structure of gangs in Los Angeles and found a diversity of structures, some all female some mixed-sex groups. While activities varied from one clique to another, there were a number of parallel behaviors among female and male gang members. However, one key difference was the role of family problems and family disruption in the lives of female gang members’ decisions to join the gang. Moore criticized Campbell’s conclusions about what has come to be known as the “liberation hypothesis” finding many deleterious effects to gang membership for girls. Miller’s (2001) fieldwork in Columbus, Ohio and St. Louis with gang and nongang peers provides an interesting contrast to this issue. Miller finds that family trouble, the level of gang activity in the neighborhood and gang members in the family were the primary contributors to gang membership among the girls she studied. But, consistent with Moore’s concerns, Miller found that girls who joined gangs opened themselves up to additional risks for victimization, particularly sexual and violent victimization. Thus Miller concludes that the gang experience is not the liberating rite that Campbell described. There has been a paucity of research that has examined the need for and impact of gender specific programming with gang-involved girls. The Williams, Curry and Cohen (2002) examination of adolescent female interventions in Boston, Seattle and Pueblo, CO provides the most solid knowledge about such programming. Each of the programs was attempted to deliver a variety of services including individual strategies (social and life skills training, case management, mentoring), family strategies (family therapy, parent training), school strategies (goal setting, teaching reform), peer strategies (positive peer culture, peer counseling), and community strategies (cultural enhancement, community service, safe havens). Despite this, there was more success in delivering service strategies that targeted individuals. School strategies and family strategies were the most difficult to implement. It also was clear from the process evaluation that each site also struggled with staff and record-keeping issues. Staff turnover tended to be high, and some of the programs experienced difficulty in recruitment and retention of program participants. The outcome evaluation was limited to the Pueblo site, owing to its successful level of program implementation and record keeping. The Pueblo site saw reductions in delinquency, and improvements in school performance. Williams and her colleagues linked those successes to the comprehensive nature of the program and the fact that the program identified key risk factors for female gang involvement.


Gangs and Schools The family and school are widely regarded as the most powerful socializing agents in the lives of children. This is true for gang members and potential gang members, as schools provide the opportunity for youth to mix with diverse groups of students from a variety of backgrounds, and influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Schools have an important impact on the lives of gang and non-gang members, and provide the opportunity for non­ gang youth to learn about and become involved in gangs. In many parts of the country, both schools and communities are failing. Schools fail communities by not educating and graduating their students, and communities fail schools by providing negative environments. In the 1980’s Wilson (1985) noted that more than half of the African-American and Latino youths attending Chicago public schools dropped out before graduating, and of those graduating, less than half could read at or above the national average. Such school failure serves to isolate children from avenues for success. Communities fail schools by not providing a safe environment in which teachers can teach and students can learn both within the school and in surrounding neighborhoods, and by failing to provide adequate resources to address educational and social problems. These related failures can lead to gang problems of a variety of sorts. The presence of gangs in schools across the United States is documented most clearly by Howell and Lynch (2000) in their review of work with the School Crime Supplements (SCS ) to the National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS) (Chandler, et al., 1998). When multiple indicators of gang presence in schools were used, more than one-third of students (37%) reported the presence of gangs at their school. These percentages were significantly higher among Hispanic students (nearly two-thirds) and black students (almost one half) than white students (roughly one-third). Older students were more likely to report the presence of gangs in schools, with 14 to 18 year olds reporting roughly similar percentages (around 40%) of respondents in these age groups indicating that gangs were present in their schools. The size of the city in which the school was located also had a positive effect on increasing the presence of gangs, with schools in communities greater than 100,000 most likely to report the presence of gangs. In addition, the lower the household income of students, the more likely it was that they reported the presence of gangs. Gang presence was also positively related to the availability of drugs in schools, and was positively correlated with higher reports of crime in school. Students who reported gangs in their schools also reported that the schools took more security measures. The unique contribution of gangs to school crime can not be isolated from these data, but they provide powerful evidence of


the presence of gangs in schools, and the concentration of such a presence among specific age, ethnic, income and population groups. Some research supports the notion that gangs control certain public schools. Miller (1975, 1982) interviewed school officials who indicated that gangs operated in and around schools in many large American cities. He concluded that gangs posed serious obstacles to the education of students and a serious threat to the physical safety of students and teachers. Miller (1982, pp. 131-132) linked the increase in school-based gangs in the 1970's to the weakened ability of schools to control students and a greater emphasis on keeping troublesome adolescents in school. Tromanhauser et al., (1981), surveyed over 12,000 students in Chicago public schools. They concluded that school-based gang activity could be found in all twenty of Chicago’s school districts, and just over half of the students reported that gangs were active in their own school. Ten percent of students responded that they had either been intimidated or attacked by gang members, or solicited for membership. Other research in Chicago links the high dropout rate in that city’s schools to the presence of gangs. Hutchison and Kyle (1993) interviewed random samples of the 1979-entering classes of two predominantly Hispanic Chicago high schools. Based on these interviews, Hutchison and Kyle (1993) concluded that gangs were in control of specific classrooms and whole floors at the two schools. In addition, gang members routinely sold drugs including cocaine and heroin inside the schools. Students reported that administrators had not intervened to control this situation. A large number of non-gang students and students who were members of rival gangs avoided those parts of the school either by cutting classes or dropping out of school altogether. Based on other research, however, the experience in Chicago appears to be an extreme case. Much of the research has found that gang problems in schools are less severe than in the surrounding neighborhoods. Indeed, this was one of the findings of Thrashers (1927) early research. This conclusion was supported by Spergel’s (1985) analysis of official records data from the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Public Schools. He found that just fewer than ten percent of the gang crime recorded by police in Chicago occurred in or near public schools. He concluded that street gang problems are more serious and of greater prevalence than are school gang problems, and argues that younger gang members most often perpetrate school gang crime, compared to street gang crime. One response to such a finding is that many older gang members are not in school, and as a consequence, lower levels of gang crime in higher grades simply reflects this fact. Gang members are not in school. Padilla (1992) reports that none of the gang members he studied were still enrolled in school. Hagedorn (1988) provides similar findings from Milwaukee. Indeed, he linked the increase in gangs and gang activity in Milwaukee to policies that closed inner-city schools and forced busing to middle class suburban schools. Indeed, he found that none of the Milwaukee gang leaders had graduated from high school. The St. Louis research conducted by Decker and Van Winkle provides limited support for the belief that gangs control schools. Some of their respondents report selling drugs, bribing teachers and bringing weapons to school. However, these appear to be a small, though troublesome minority of gang members. They labeled accounts of gangs controlling schools


alarmist and unfounded, and report that many gang members reported that schools were viewed as somewhat neutral territory. In addition, many gang members indicated that they regarded school as much safer than their neighborhoods. This is not to say that these gang members were model students, as truancy and rule-violating behaviors were the most common activities reported when questions about school were asked. Spergel (1995) concludes that most research supports the conclusion that gang members typically do poorly in school and/or frequently drop out of school. This observation is consistent with the view that gangs offer their own set of values, opportunities for achievement, and sources of status to youth. The gang requires some level of commitment from its members, and the greater that commitment, the lower will be the commitment to school, and the requirements for successful school participation. Vigil (1988) has portrayed gang involvement as commitment to an alternative set of values distinctly different from those necessary for school success. Padilla (1992) and Moore (1991) echo this observation. Because of the “oppositional” nature of gang culture, school values and behaviors are inconsistent with what gangs are about. Schools also provide higher levels of supervision of behavior than exist in neighborhoods. And the behavior of gang members in schools, behavior that often involves fighting, selling drugs, disrespecting teachers and other students, often leads to increased suppression efforts. This situation has been exacerbated by the growth of “zero tolerance” policies. Klein (1995) suggests that because of their inability to deal with gang problems in ways other than suppression, high levels of gang member suspension and expulsion pave the way for higher dropout rates. Such consequences for neighborhoods and gang members are almost always negative. The irony is that as gang members are pushed out of school to make schools safer, neighborhoods and gang members themselves almost always become worse. One promising response to the presence of gangs in schools, and the problems that such a presence creates is the Gang Resistance Education and Training program (G.R.E.A.T.). G.R.E.A.T. was developed in 1991 as a partnership between educators, community leaders and law enforcement, and is supported with funding from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The program is primarily a gang prevention program that is targeted at middle school students. Because of its focus on seventh graders, the G.R.E.A.T. program can best be considered primary prevention; that is, a program targeted at individuals before they reach the age at greatest risk for gang involvement. There are several classroom lessons that provide both structured activities and classroom instruction designed to help students avoid pressures to join gangs as well as to become responsible citizens. Unlike most gang programs there has been good evaluation research of the G.R.E.A.T. program. Esbensen et al., (2002) examined both short-term and long-term program effects, and found that students in the G.R.E.A.T. program were more likely to have pro-social attitudes and fewer problem behaviors than students not in the program. However, the longitudinal evaluation did not find significant differences between students in the program and students who did not receive the program. Most importantly, this was the case for self-reported measures of involvement in crime, drug use and delinquency.


Characteristics of Gang Organization What are the structural and organizational characteristics of gangs? Here we examine questions such as whether gangs have leaders, rules, roles, meetings, punishments for violating rules, and the extent to which they coordinate revenue-generating activities and the investment of money generated from such activities. One view of gang organization is that of the vertically organized gang, a gang that has a formal structure that enforces rules and acts in the same ways that a business may act. An alternative view argues that most gangs are horizontal, and lack the formal-rational character of organizations with established leadership structures and well-defined roles and missions. As is generally the case with gangs, there is considerable diversity regarding the answer to these questions. However, in general it is our view that gangs do not tend to be very well organized. Maxson and Klein (1995) used their national surveys of police to identify five distinct gang types that reflect the size, presence of subgroups, age range, duration, territoriality and versatility of gangs. The five gang types identified were: (1) traditional, (2) neotraditional, (3) compressed, (4) collective, and (5) specialty. Traditional and neotraditional gangs are large, with subgroups, territoriality and versatility, but neotraditional gangs are of more recent emergence, typically less than ten years. Compressed gangs are small, and recent with a narrow age range and versatility in their offending. Collective gangs are medium in size, age range and duration, and versatile in their offending. Specialty gangs are small, of recent vintage, but specialize in one particular form of offending. These structural descriptions of gang typologies are useful in identifying the larger characteristics of gangs, however there are many organizational characteristics that need to be identified. Most gangs have leaders. This should not be very surprising, as few organizations can survive without some form of leadership. However, gang leaders in most cases are less likely to resemble corporate executives as they are to be like the captain of a sports team, a role that can change from one circumstance or one day to another. Not surprisingly, leadership roles are better defined in those gangs and gang cities where gangs have operated the longest. Thus in Chicago and Los Angeles, we find gang leaders who are older, more specialized in their activities, and more powerful. In other cities, those we have called emerging gang cities, leadership roles have a far more informal character. In these gangs, a gang leader can change from one day or one function to another. Typically among these less organized gangs, leaders are chosen from among the ranks of those who have been members the longest, are the toughest, or most involved in crime. As gang membership means involvement in criminal activity, it is not surprising to find that leaders change regularly, as they go to prison. In the most organized Chicago gangs like the Gangster Disciples, going to prison often enhances the status of an individual in the gang, and many leadership activities take place from within the state or federal prison systems. There is considerable diversity in the patterns and styles of leadership that exists in most gangs. In order to survive, most organizations need rules. Gangs are not any different in this respect. However, the character of those rules helps us to understand the nature of gang organization. A relatively small number of gangs have written sets of rules or a constitution; by far most gangs simply have a set of rules that are understood among the members. However, gang rules hardly reflect the complexity of a criminal code or a set of formal rules adopted by a corporation. One of the ways to understand the importance of rules for any organization is whether there are formal punishments or mechanisms to mete out punishment for those who violate the rules. Punishments that are informal, made up on the spur of the moment and have less force, reflect the character of a less-organized group 34

than those punishments that are specified in the rules themselves. Most gangs have informal systems of punishment that reflect the age-graded concerns of their members. Where penalties do exist, they are likely to include elements of physical violence, similar to initiations, or exile from the gang. The presence of rules and a system to determine violations and punishments are important features in distinguishing the level of gang organization. Nearly all gangs distinguish between the roles members play in the gang. In the least organized case, this distinction is only between core and fringe members, with the former participating more fully in decisions about activities to pursue. But few gangs are quite so informal in their identification of roles. In most gangs there are at least three levels of roles: (1) leadership, (2) experienced gang members, and (3) the majority of members, regular members. Leadership roles are occupied by the smallest number of gang members, and typically include individuals who have been in the gang the longest or have achieved some distinctive status as a consequence of their criminal activity or bravado. More experienced gang members may assume some specialized role within the gang, such as converting powder cocaine to crack, obtaining weapons, or stealing cars. These individuals are likely to have been members of the gang for at least two to three years, and have earned their rank as a consequence of special skills or achievements. Most members play few specialized roles and offer little to the gang beyond simply being regular members. Roles are not just the property of individuals; they can also exist for specific activities. It is often the case that a number of distinct roles are necessary to successfully sell drugs, particularly crack cocaine. Some may be more adept have making the connections to get large amounts of the product, while others rock it up, and others serve as lookouts, contacts, or actually sell the product. These roles are often inter-changeable, and yesterday's lookout can be today’s seller. The same may be true for the acquisition of guns or automobiles, particularly among juveniles for whom such commodities may be prohibited. Under such circumstances, under-age juveniles must associate with adults to obtain access to such commodities or engage in crime in order to obtain them. Gangs can facilitate roles that lead to further involvement with criminal peers, and solidify criminal roles. Another aspect of gang organization is whether or not the gang holds regular meetings. The available evidence indicates that, in some form or another, meetings of gang members do occur. However, the informal character that typifies most gang organizations also can be found in the nature of their meetings. It is not easy to speak of the average size of gangs in this country, as there is considerable variation in the size of gangs. However, gangs in most cities average between 50 and 250 members. Meetings, where they do occur, are much more likely to involve a small group of key decision-makers who then funnel the word on to other members. The final aspect of gang organization is what happens to the money made in gang-involved crime. In some cases, all of the money is reinvested in the organization so that it can grow. In other cases, the money raised by individual members of an organization is kept for their own use. The first model is the corporate model, and the second is a model of individual entrepreneurship. With few exceptions, gang members function as individual entrepreneurs, selling drugs or committing crimes for their own benefit, rarely if ever reinvesting their profits into the larger gang. A notable exception is found among the Gangster Disciples, the Black Gangster Disciples (Papachristos, 2001) and the Vice Lords (Knox and Papachristos, 2002) in Chicago, where reinvestment in the gang is an important priority, and profits from drug sales are often used to buy legal businesses. Indeed, the analysis by Papachristos (2001) and


Knox and Papachristos (2002) indicates that these are among the most organized gangs in the city with the most organized gangs. We reviewed many important aspects of the gang experience, including gang processes, correlates of gang involvement, and characteristics of gang organization. The majority of members are in their teens, and this is a time of life that is not characterized by high levels of formal, organized behavior. We ought not be surprised then, that by and large, gangs lack the characteristics of formal organizations, and that the processes of membership reflect the sometimes haphazard nature of adolescence.


Mechanisms of Gang Diffusion__________________________ Here we highlight three mechanisms of gang diffusion, including popular culture, migration and structural characteristics. The role of popular culture is critical to understanding the growth of gangs and gang membership. Following Short (1985), we treat gangs —the group, -- and gang members, —the individuals —separately. Despite this distinction, popular culture helps to explain the growth in membership as well as the spread of gangs. The element of popular culture that is particularly important to the process of gang diffusion is the media. Key media vehicles for the diffusion of gang culture are such things as music, music videos, movies, television, and printed vehicles. The portrayal of gang images, gang names, gang styles and gang behavior (to mention a few) through the vehicle of popular culture helps to account for the presence of Los Angeles gang names and styles in rural Indiana, Midwestern cities, and other locations otherwise unlikely to interact with and observe west coast gang members. It is important to note in this context that most gang members are adolescents; national surveys and ethnographies cite ages 16-20 as the model ages of gang membership. Adolescents as a group are prone to imitation, and styles of youth behavior are quite transient and move rapidly throughout the culture. A good deal of youth culture is imitative, and it is not at all uncommon to find imitations of behavior that span geography, as well as ethnicity, social class and gender. But popular culture alone does not explain the social transmission of gangs and gang membership across geographic and demographic boundaries. Maxson and Klein (1994) document that the migration of gang members (or more accurately their families) also plays a role in the transmission of gang membership across such boundaries. The United States has a mobile population, where relocating is quite common, and gang members are not immune to these typical migratory pressures. However, police reports (Maxson and Klein, 1994) indicate that the migration of gang members is linked to typical migratory pressures rather than purposive efforts to move the gang into new locations. There are also structural characteristics that play a role in the generation of gangs and likelihood of joining a gang. Clearly, traditional structural factors such as those documented by Thrasher (1927) and Hagedorn (1988) that include immigration, poverty, and increases in concentrated poverty, play a role in creating conditions where gangs and gang membership are likely to flourish. The role of structural factors is indirect, compared to migration and popular culture, but these structural characteristics create circumstances under which gangs seem to grow. Gang Processes For our purposes, a process is a social dynamic that varies over time. Processes involve a number of participants who interact at various points in time. A key to understanding social processes is the meaning that actors in the process assign actions, statements and reactions. We have identified four gang processes above, joining the gang, being initiated into the gang, engaging in violence and leaving the gang. It is important to observe that both gang and non­ gang members participate in and affect the out come of gang processes. In addition, gang processes occur at a number of different levels, including individual, group and structural levels. It is also the case that imprisoned gang members play a role in the diffusion of gangs. When gang members are imprisoned, members of their family visit them at their institutions. Imprisoned gang members are also visited by associates involved in crime generally and the gang more specifically. These visits serve to reinforce gang membership, enhance criminal involvement, and maintain relationships between individuals who are institutionalized and those who are on the street.


Prison Gangs: Structure and Organization There is considerable evidence that prison gangs are different from other gangs. It is important to recognize that prison gangs are groups that have much greater involvement in crime than do other gangs. In addition, these groups present more difficult management problems than do other groups. Lyman (1989, p. 48) defines a prison gang as "an organization that operates within the prison system as a selfperpetuating criminally oriented entity, consisting of a select group of inmates who have established an organized chain of command and are governed by an established code of conduct. The prison gang will usually operate in secrecy and has as its goal to conduct gang activities by controlling their prison environment through intimidation and violence directed toward non-members." We know that such groups have been in prisons a long time. The first known American prison gang was the Gypsy Jokers (Stastny and Tymauer, 1983). This gang was formed in the 1950s in Washington state prisons. The first prison gang with nationwide ties was the Mexican Mafia, which emerged in 1957 in the California Department of Corrections. Obtaining data on the number of prison gangs and gang membership is difficult for a number of measurement reasons. Fong and Buentello (1991) suggest three major reasons for this lack of prison gang research. First, official documentation on prison gangs is weak. The documentation that does exist is generally only for departmental use. Second, prison managers are reluctant to allow outside researchers into facilities to conduct prison gang research. Fear over security and vague suggestions that research might hamper the welfare of the prison are the often-cited reasons for excluding prison researchers. Third, prison gang members themselves are secretive, and would not likely disclosure sensitive information about their prison gang group to outside researchers. The first studies of prison gangs that employed a research methodology were conducted by Caltabiano (1981) and Camp and Camp (1985). They identified approximately 114 gangs with a membership of approximately 13,000 inm ates. Of the 49 agencies surveyed, 33 indicated that gangs were active in their system. Pennsylvania reported 15 gangs, Illinois, 14. Illinois had 5,300 gang members; Pennsylvania had 2,400, and California 2,050. Other studies confirmed the presence and number of gang members. In Texas, there were nine prison gangs with over fifty members each (Ralph and Marquart, 1991). In Illinois, it was reported 34 percent of inmates belonged to a prison gang, which was then the highest percent of prison gang-affiliated inmates in the nation (Camp and Camp 1985). The American Correctional Association determined that prison gang membership doubled between 1985 and 1992. There are organizational similarities across prison gangs. These groups usually have a structure that designates one person as a leader who oversees a council of members and make the group’s final decisions. The rank and file membership create a hierarchy, making these groups look similar to Italian organized crime. The United States Department of Justice (1992) suggests that leaders and hard-core members include only 15 to 20 percent of gang membership, and that the majority of members do not have a vested interest in the organization leadership. Prison gangs require absolute loyalty (Marquart and Sorenson, 1997) and secrecy (Fong and Buentello, 1991). Violent behavior is customary among these groups and can be used to move a member upward in the prison hierarchy. Prison gangs focus on the business aspects of crime, generally through drug trafficking. Such crime groups have an interest in protecting their membership (Montgomery and 38

Crews, 1998). Gang members are the essential capital in crime-oriented social groups; likewise, when members want to leave the group, such out-group movement jeopardizes group security, thus the socalled blood in, blood out credo (Fong, Vogel, and Buentello 1995). Despite facing death, inmates do leave prison gangs and risk the possibility of death. Fong, Vogel, and Buentello (1995) surveyed 48 former prison gang members who defected and found that the number of gang defectors was proportional to their prison gang's size. A number of reasons were cited for leaving the gang. These reasons included losing interest in gang activities, refusing to carry out a hit on non­ gang members, and a disagreement with the direction of the gang's leadership.


Key Prison Gangs Research suggests that there are at least five major prison gangs, each with its own structure and purpose. The Mexican Mafia (L a Erne) started at the Deuel Vocational Center in Tracy, California, in the 1950s, and California’s first prison gang (Hunt et al., 1993) composed of primarily C h ic a n o s , or Mexican Americans. Criminal activities include drug trafficking, and conflict with other prison gangs, such as the Texas Syndicate, Mexikanemi, and Aryan Brotherhood, is common (Orlando-Morningstar, 1997). The Aryan Brotherhood (AB), a white supremacist group, was started in 1967 in California's San Quentin prison by white inmates who wanted to oppose the racial threat of black and Hispanic inmates (Orlando-Morningstar, 1997). Pelz, Marquart, and Pelz (1991) suggest that the AB held distorted perceptions of blacks, and that many Aryans felt that black inmates were taking advantage of white inmates, especially sexually, thus the need to form and/or join the Brotherhood. Joining the AB requires a six-month probationary period (Marquart and Sorenson, 1997). (“our family”) was established in the 1960s in California’s Soledad prison, although some argue it began in the Deuel Vocational Center (Landre, Miller, and Porter, 1997). The original members were Hispanics from Northern California’s agricultural Central Valley who aligned to protect themselves from the Los Angeles-based Mexican Mafia. L a N u e stra F a m ilia has a formal structure and rules and a governing body known as L a M e s a , or a board of directors. Today, L a N u e s tr a F a m ilia still wars against the Mexican Mafia over drug trafficking, but the war seems to be easing in California (Orlando-Morningstar, 1997).

L a N u e s tr a F a m ilia

The Texas Syndicate emerged in 1958 at Deuel Vocational Institute in California. It appeared at California's Folsom Prison in the early 1970s and at San Quentin in 1976, because other gangs were harassing native Texans. Inmate members are generally Texas Mexican-Americans, but now the Texas Syndicate offers membership to Latin Americans as well. Texas Syndicate opposes other MexicanAmerican gangs, especially those from Los Angeles (Hunt et al., 1993). Dominating the crime agenda is drug trafficking inside and outside prison, and selling protection inmates (Landre et al., 1997). This group has a hierarchical structure with a president and vice president in each local area (either a prison or in the community) and someone is appointed the gang's chairman (Orlando-Morningstar, 1997). The M e x ik a n e m i (known also as the Texas Mexican Mafia) was established in 1984 and is an emerging threat. Its name and symbols cause confusion with the Mexican Mafia. The M e x ik a n e m i spars with the Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate, although it has been said that the M e x ik a n e m i and the Texas Syndicate are aligning themselves against the Mexican Mafia (Orlando-Morningstar, 1997). Hunt et al. (1993) suggest that the N o rte n o s and the S u re n o s are newer Chicano gangs in California. These appear to be related groups. The New Structure and the Border Brothers also have been noted as 40

new California prison gangs. The origins and alliances of these groups are unclear; however, the Border Brothers are comprised of Spanish-speaking Mexicans and tend to remain solitary. The Border Brothers do seem to be gaining membership and control as more Mexicans are convicted and imprisoned in American prisons. The Crips and Bloods, traditional Los Angeles street gangs, are gaining strength in the prisons as well, as are the 415s, a group from the San Francisco area (415 is the San Francisco area code). The Federal Bureau of Prisons cites fourteen other disruptive groups within the federal system, which have been documented as of 1995, including the Texas Mafia, the Bull Dogs, and the Dirty White Boys (Landre et al., 1997).


Prison Gangs and Violence Prison gangs dominate the drug business, and many researchers argue that prison gangs are also responsible for most prison violence (Ingraham and Wellford, 1987). Motivated by a desire to make money and be at the top of an institution's inmate power structure, prison gangs exploit prison operations. Thousands of inmates in a prison cannot be watched at every moment of every day, year after year. Some would argue that correctional staff allow and participate in criminal activities such as drug trafficking. When profits are at stake, research on street gangs show that violence is often the outcome. Inside prisons, the same pattern appears. Camp and Camp (1985) noted that prison gang members were an aggregate three percent of the prison population but caused 50 percent or more of the prison violence. In a small confined area such as prisons, with a finite number of drug customers as well as customers of other gang-related services, such as gambling and prostitution (Fleisher, 1989), the stage is set for inter­ gang competition (Fong, Vogel, and Buentello, 1992), especially in overcrowded prisons. “Turf wars” that occur on the street and occur in prison as well, where gang members and non-gang members are packed together, leaving few options for retreat to a safe and neutral spot (Gaston, 1996).


Correctional Responses to Prison Gangs How have prison officials responded to prison gangs? Prisons have tried a variety of overt and covert strategies. These strategies include the use of inmate informants, the use of segregation units for prison gang members, the isolation of prison gang leaders, the lockdown of entire institutions, the vigorous prosecution of criminal acts committed by prison gang members, the interruption of prison gang members' internal and external communications, and the case-by-case examination of prison gang offenses. There are, however, no published research evaluations testing the efficacy of these suppression strategies on curbing prison gang violence and/or other criminal conduct inside correctional institutions. Below is brief summary of some of the anti-prison-gang initiatives. A popular control procedure is segregation. Inmates are kept by themselves in a cell, twenty-three hours a day, with one hour assigned to recreation and/or other activities. Texas used administrative segregation and put all known prison gang members into segregation in 1985, in the hope of limiting their influence on mainline inmate populations. Violence in the general population decreased, with nine prison gangmotivated homicides from 1985 to 1990; fewer armed assaults were reported as well. By 1991, segregation housed more than 1,500 gang members (Ralph and Marquart, 1991). By contrast, Knox (2000) reports that over half of the 133 prison officials interviewed in a national survey on prison gangs believe a segregation policy is not effective, because gang activity still occurs. When an order is issued by a prison gang to commit a violent act, it is carried out, even in a segregation unit. Also, segregation is expensive and does not solve the problem of developing better prison management that will control prison gangs. The recent work by Wells, Minor, Angel, Carter and Cox (2002) as commissioned by the National Major Gang Task Force provides a solid and broad base of knowledge regarding prison gangs and control strategies for prison gangs in state correctional and local jail facilities. Following the federal convention, Wells et al., used the term "security threat groups" (STG’s) instead of gangs. Following the lead of Toller and Tsagaris (1996), they defined an STG as "two or more inmates, acting together, who pose a threat to the security or safety of staff/inmates, and/or are disruptive to programs, and/or threaten the orderly management of the facility/system." (Wells et al, 2002; Toller and Tsagaris, 1996). They used a mailed survey to accomplish four specific goals; (1) (2) (3) (4)

create a demographic profile of staff, inmate and STG populations enumerate violent incidents and their relationship to STG’s inventory the strategies and tools used to manage/control STG’s obtain descriptions of STG’s operating under their jurisdiction while documenting the methods used to identify such groups

Wells et al., (2002) found considerable variation in the levels of STG-involved inmates in state correctional systems, ranging from a low of 0 in Vermont and 2 percent in Kentucky to highs of 53% in Wisconsin, 41% in Hawaii, 39% in New Mexico, and 34% in Colorado. However, only four state prison systems and six jails reported that there were not STG’s in their jurisdiction, underscoring the widespread presence of gangs in correctional settings. Similar variation was found across jail systems. Not surprisingly Cook County, IL. (39%) and Los Angeles, CA. Sheriffs Department (52%) reported the highest percentage of STG’s among their populations. In prison systems, just over one-quarter (27%) of 43

all violent victimizations of staff were perpetrated by STG’s, slightly higher than the 33% reported for jails. Similar percentages were reported for violent incidents directed at other inmates, with 27% in prisons and 33% in jails. Roughly three-quarters (76%) of prison systems and just under half (44%) of the jails reported having a policy or strategy directed at controlling STG’s within their facility. In prisons, the dominant control strategies (employed by 86% of systems) were validating membership and having policies and procedures for dealing with STG’s. For jails, the dominant control strategy was having a central monitoring unit to monitor STG’s (82%). Generally, there was consistency between the use of such control strategies between prisons and jails. One difference, however, was that the prison systems employed more strategies than did the jails. Perhaps this reflects the transient nature of jail populations, and the need for longer-term programming in the longer-term correctional facilities. The dominant control strategies in state correctional systems involved monitoring mail and telephone calls, followed by strip searches and segregation. Jails relied much more on segregation and protective custody, again reflecting the short-term stay of their charges. Another difference between prisons and jails was reflected in the ethnic composition of STG members. Both prisons and jails reported that AfricanAmericans were the largest proportion of STG-identified inmates under their control. However, prisons reported that Caucasians represented the second largest ethnic group, roughly one-third of all inmates, followed by Hispanics (14%). For jails, Hispanics represented nearly twice as many STG’s as did whites (24% to 13%). In all probability, this difference is a product of the better identification systems to be found in state prisons. In sum, Wells and his colleagues (2002) reported over 1,600 different Security Threat Groups that included more than 113,627 inmates. They also indicate that these figures equate to 13% of prison inmates and 16 % of jail prisoners as being identified STG members. These figures are four to five times higher than what Camp and Camp (1985) reported nearly two decades ago. Wells et al., (2002: 29) argue that the difference in definitions used (Camp and Camp used gangs rather than STG’s) may account for the differences because the latter is much more expansive. That said, the growth in street gangs coupled with the increasing use of imprisonment surely accounts for some of the growth in identification of gang/STG-involved prisoners since the Camp and Camp study. In addition, while Camp and Camp (1985) found gang populations concentrated in a relatively small number of states, the respondents to the Wells et al., study found STG’s in 92% of the 48 prison systems included in the survey. This data, the most recent and comprehensive available, support several important conclusions about the gangs —STG’s -- in prison and jails. First, there are a large number of STG’s and STG members in both state prisons and local jails. Second, there is considerable variation across these systems, reflecting the presence of street gangs, violence, and drug dealing. Third, these STG’s include a minority of inmates, but that minority of inmates disproportionately account for violence in institutions, whether that violence is directed against staff or other inmates. Finally, while both systems have policies in place, prisons are more likely to have policies and strategies in place to address STG’s than are jails. Isolating gang leaders has become a popular control strategy. With a prison gang leader locked down, vertical communication within the gang would, ideally, weaken and the prison gang group's solidarity would eventually deteriorate. One version of isolating prison gang leaders is to transfer them among institutions or keeping them circulating between prisons (United States Department of Justice, 1992). There are no published evaluations of isolation and/or "bus therapy."


Another attempt to reduce gang membership is “jacketing.” This involves putting an official note in an inmate’s file if he is suspected of being involved with a gang. This note follows him in prison and allows authorities to transfer him to a high-security facility. Many find this process inappropriate, because it may involve suspected but unconfirmed gang activity, often reported by a snitch, which leads to incorrectly labeling an inmate as prison gang member or associate. Once so labeled, an inmate can be controlled with threats with of segregation and transfer. However, there are no published evaluations of this approach. Hunt et al. (1993) describes a “debriefing” technique, which requires prison gang inmates to relinquish information about their gangs as a precondition to being released from a high-security facility. Staff might also pressure inmates by threatening them with a transfer to such institutions unless they offer information. The legality of such techniques is questionable and may likely threaten the life of a debriefed inmate or those whom prison gang members believe have been debriefed. Correctional agencies now use databases to track prison gang members and gang activities. This allows for effective communication between a correctional and a state police agency, and improves data accuracy because data can be entered as soon as they are gathered (Gaston, 1996). The New York City Department of Correction uses a system that allows for digitized photos, which document gang members’ marks and/or tattoos. A tattoo or scar or other identifying mark can be used to do database searches. The speed and capacity to update intelligence information makes the use of a shared database an effective tool in prison gang management. Providing alternative programming could become part of prison gang management strategy; however, prison gang members have not embraced such programming. The Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Massachusetts develop a graduated program for prison gang members wishing to leave segregation. The program uses movies, discussion sessions, and homework. At the program’s end, participants must write a statement certifying they will no longer participate in gang activities. Two years into the program, 190 inmates were enrolled and 17 had been returned to segregation for gang activities (Toller and Tsagaris, 1996). Details of the program’s evaluation were not available. Another control strategy is using out-of-state transfers, which sends key prison gang members to out of state facilities, in the hope of stopping or slowing a prison gang’s activities. If a gang has already been established, it is hoped that such a transfer would disrupt a gang to the point of its demise; however, there are no data showing the effectiveness of this type of control strategy. In fact, transferring a highranking prison gang member could be the impetus to transfer his prison gang to yet another institution (United States Department of Justice, 1992). Correctional agencies have tried to weaken prison gangs by assigning members of different prison gangs to the same work assignment and living quarters, in anticipation of limiting the number, thus the power of one prison gang over another at a specific place. The Texas Department of Corrections, for instance, prison gang members are assigned to two or three, high-security, lockdown institutions. Illinois tried this approach to no avail, because the inmate prison gang population was too large to control effectively within a few locations (United States Department of Justice, 1992). Camp and Camp (1985) surveyed facilities and asked officials which strategies they were most likely to employ against prison gangs. Transfer was cited by 27 of the 33 agencies; the use of informers was cited 21 times; prison gang member segregation was cited 20 times; prison gang leader segregation was


cited 20 times; facility lockdown down was cited 18 times; and vigorous prosecution and interception of prison gang members’ communications was cited 16 times. Knox and Tromanhauser (1991) surveyed prison wardens, asking about prison gang control: 70.9 percent advocated bus therapy. Some prison officials tried to quell prison gang disruptions by discussing those disruptions with gang leaders. And 5.5 percent of the wardens said they ignored prison gangs. These researchers show that fewer than half of the prisons surveyed provided any type of prison gang training; but recently, Knox (2000) shows that correctional officers training has improved, with a finding that over two-thirds of the 133 facilities surveyed provided some gang training in 1999. Efforts to control prison gangs must be matched by thoughtful, community-based initiatives. Research now shows that prison gangs have extended their base from the prison, well beyond to the streets (Fong and Buentello, 1991). The important implication of this fact is that prison gangs will gain a stronger hold in communities if communities do not intervention in carefully structured ways, with more than law enforcement suppression. If that happens, street gangs may become better structured, and drug gangs may become more powerful forces in the community. Fleisher, Decker, and Curry's essay in this volume urges correctional agencies to unite with communities to provide careful, post-imprisonment programming for gang-affiliated inmates.


Intervention Strategies In this section we review five models of gang intervention that have crucial importance nationally and locally as models. These models were developed by Curry and Spergel and have been implemented in more than a dozen communities. These models are flexible and demand that local communities collect a wide range of data regarding crime and response capability before crafting interventions. In addition, any understanding of the conceptual and practical reasons why individuals join gangs, become engaged in crime or leave the gang must be addressed. Spergel and Curry Strategies Spergel and Curry (1993) identified five basic gang intervention strategies, based on survey responses from 254 law enforcement and social service agencies nationwide that were part of the National Youth Gang Suppression and Intervention Program. These strategies, reviewed below, include suppression, social intervention, organizational change, community mobilization, and social opportunities provision. Spergel and Curry (1993) report that cities with chronic gang problems least often employed social opportunities and community mobilization. Despite this, these were the strategies assessed as most effective among participating cities. (1) Suppression strategies respond to the proximate causes of gangs. Suppression may include arrest, special prosecution, incarceration, intensive supervision, gang intelligence, and networking among criminal justice agencies to the exclusion of non-justice agencies. Fortyfour percent of the responding agencies reported that suppression was their primary strategy in responding to gangs. To be effective, these strategies must be part of a broader set of responses to the illegal actions of gang members. By itself, suppression is not likely to affect the growth of gangs or the crimes committed by gang members. Klein (1995) has argued that suppression efforts should not be implemented in ways that increased the status of gang members. Specialized police units may contribute, in latent ways, to the growth of gangs, by creating a larger gang problem through over-identification. In addition, law enforcement strategies may exacerbate the racial disproportionality of arrest. Prison gangs may grow as a result of suppression efforts. Cities that follow suppression policies exclusively are likely to be frustrated in their efforts to reduce gang problems. The strategy of suppression was the most common response to gang problems reported by respondents to the 1988 OJJDP national survey. Despite this, most respondents regarded it as the least effective response. (2) Social intervention approaches focus on emergency interventions, particularly in response to acts of violence or personal crisis. Nearly one-third, (32%) of cities said that they used social intervention strategies such as crisis intervention, treatment for youths and their families and social service referrals. A number of studies support the use of crisis intervention and the provision of social services to gang members and their families. Such strategies are proximate, designed to address the needs of a more immediate nature. Gang members frequently are victims of violence or witnesses to a friend's victimization. The use of crisis intervention services in such instances is especially promising, though such intervention 47

should occur immediately following a violent event. Crisis responses should be available at emergency rooms and should be mobilized by law enforcement, health care, or community groups. The goals for these interventions should be the separation of gang members from atrisk individuals and the provision of mentoring and other social services that extend beyond emergency rooms. Families are an important part of social intervention strategies. Many gang members attempt to deceive their parents about their membership. Most gang members and their families face a number of challenges and have few resources upon which to draw. Interventions targeted at families are important because of their broad impact. In addition, most gang members have siblings or cousins whose well being may be adversely affected by the gang member. This magnifies the impact of family interventions. (3) Strategies that concentrate on organizational change require the creation of a broad consensus about gang problems. Typically this occurs through the formation of task forces. Such an approach is targeted at the proximate causes of gangs and by itself cannot solve gang problems. Organizational change was the next most frequent response, selected by 11 percent of the responding cities. This method typically includes the development of task forces to address gang problems. In general, organizational change leads both to an awareness of the gang problems in the community and mobilizes efforts to address them, or produces a new set of relations among agencies and groups who respond to such problems. Organizational change can be successful only if it has the support of the community and groups in those neighborhoods where gangs operate, optimally including local politicians and the private sector. This strategy typically occurs early in the cycle of responses to gangs, especially in cities that have experienced a number of failed attempts to develop consensus about the nature of the gang problem and appropriate interventions. (4) Community mobilization is a strategy designed to address the fundamental causes of gangs and gang membership. This strategy coordinates and targets services so that the needs of gang members may be met more effectively. Only nine percent of cities selected community mobilization as their modal response to gangs. This strategy was focused on cooperation across agencies and was designed to produce better coordination of existing services. Most cities have a number of institutions and programs in place to respond to gangs and gang members. These services are seldom offered or merged in ways that are effective in meeting the needs of gang members who often have little contact with these social institutions. Effective community mobilization must include both immediate social institutions such as the family, but also schools, community agencies and groups, churches, public health agencies, and criminal and juvenile justice systems. (5) The expansion of job prospects and educational placements is the primary focus of social opportunities approaches. More than any other strategy, this response confronts the fundamental causes of gang formation and gang membership. Despite this, the smallest number of cities, five percent, reported that the provision of social opportunities was their primary response. This approach stresses education and job related interventions. As this approach addresses factors responsible for the creation of an urban underclass and the resultant dislocation of a large group of urban residents, it may hold the greatest prospects for


success. These gang intervention efforts incorporate job creation, training and residential placements designed to reshape values, peer commitments, and institutional participation by gang members and those at risk for membership. The underlying value of such an approach is it seeks to expand social capital and create new values among gang members by integrating them into legitimate social institutions. As such, these interventions address a primary need of adolescents, the need to affiliate with a set of peers in age-graded activities. Gang Legislation By 1993, fourteen of the fifty states had enacted statutes specifically directed at criminal gang activity. A review conducted by the Institute for Law and Justice (1993) groups gang legislation into two major categories: (1) legislation that provides criminal sanctions for the justice system against offenders in gang-related crimes and (2) legislation that provides civil remedies for the victims of gang crime. Criminal sanction legislation most often enhances sentences for those found guilty of committing a gang-related crime or makes provisions for segregating incarcerated gang members. Civil remedy approaches have most often attempted to empower citizens to file civil suits against gang members collectively or individually. A major impediment to the effectiveness of gang legislation is court rulings that several specific legislative acts violate the first amendment rights of gang members. Similarly, Miethe and McCorkle (2002) examined the introduction of anti-gang legislation in Nevada. They found that such statutes were used primarily when firearms were involved, but that convictions under such statutes were rare, and that overall convictions under the new statutes did not increase over their level prior to enactment of the new law. They conclude that the impact of such legislation may have symbolic components (McCorkle and Miethe 2002), and be appropriate where gang problems are at significant levels. Gang legislation constitutes a unique kind of organizational development and change response to gang-related crime. Many law enforcement agencies engage in efforts to initiate or modify legislation related to gangs or the gang problem or try to influence legislation pertaining to gangs. Perhaps the best-known gang legislation and one that has served as a model for other jurisdictions was California's 1988 STEP (Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention) Act (California Penal Code Section 182.22). Under STEP legislation, the police can obtain a civil injunction against named gang members that prohibits those gang members from congregating in public, carrying beepers, and drinking in public. The civil authority granted by STEP legislation allows the police to circumvent many of the procedural demands of the criminal law. In their review of gang legislation in California over a ten-year period, Jackson and Rudman (1993) argue that most gang legislation, including STEP, represented a form of moral panic that was overwhelmingly devoted to gang suppression and influenced by law enforcement. Maxson (1997) provides the only evaluation of the impact of the STEP act in California. Maxson reviews the process and outcome of the implementation of this act in Inglewood, CA. She notes that the gang members who were “stepped” seemed confused and unaware of what was happening during their court appearance and when they were civilly served with the injunction on the street. In addition, she noted that the long-term impact of this judicial act would be difficult to calculate, even under the best of circumstances. Finally, Maxson observed that the cost of implementing the act (well over $100,000) was difficult to justify in light of the impact of other aspects of the interventions in Inglewood.


Maxson and colleagues (Maxson, Hennigan and Sloane, 2002) expanded on prior work on the STEP act to examine the impact and process of Civil Gang Injunctions (CGI's). Under the provisions of the Civil Gang Injunction, a city fdes an injunction against a specific gang that is based on a series of citizen complaints and documented offenses that result in a preliminary injunction that is issued by a judge (L.A. City Attorney, 2001). That injunction prohibits members of a specific gang from engaging in certain behaviors, the violation of which represents the violation of a court order. These behaviors may include talking on cell phones, carrying a beeper, hanging out together or wearing certain clothing. Because the order is civil rather than criminal, once it is entered, legal actions can be taken against gang members without the necessities of a criminal proceeding. Civil penalties can be assessed against these individuals, including as much as six months jail time, $1,000 in fines, and other actions. While Maxson and her colleagues identify some crime reductions associated with the introduction of CGI's, there is not as yet strong evidence to support the hypothesis that such actions reduce crime. The legal issues raised by this approach to community crime control, as noted by Maxson, et ah, (2002) are also estimable. Interestingly, they note that because of their flexibility, CGI's have elements of suppression as well as other of the Spergel/Curry strategies such as community mobilization, organizational change and social intervention approaches. Maxson and her colleagues are currently engaged in an evaluation of the efficacy of CGI strategies for crime reductions, as well as their impact on community issues. Federal Policy And Gangs DHHS's Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program In 1988, the Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program was established in the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Applications for the first round of funding focused on single purpose demonstration projects and innovative support programs for at-risk youths and their families. Sixteen consortium projects were funded for three years. In design, these programs constituted a federally initiated, coordinated, and monitored commitment to community organization strategic responses to gang crime problems. This commitment was on a scale that was historically without precedent. Nine more consortium projects were funded in 1992 with a total of $5.9 million, each for a period of five years for up to $750,000 per year. The consortium projects received the bulk of Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program funding. However, the ACYF program included a number of projects employing social intervention strategies. Over the five years of the program, projects provided peer counseling, family education, youth empowerment, mentoring, crisis intervention, community restitution, and recreation. Priority funding areas for the delivery of services also targeted intergenerational gang families, adolescent females, and new immigrant and refugee youth gangs. Explicit goals of the Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program mandated by Congress in its creation included facilitating Federal, State, and Local cooperation and coordination of agencies responding to gang and drug crime problems. Funding solicitations required applicant programs to incoiporate a local evaluation plan, and an independent national level evaluation was funded for the 52 projects initially funded in 1989. The national evaluation (Cohen, et ah, 1995) concluded that while local programs were generally


effective in reducing delinquency and drug use among youth participants, th e p r o g r a m s w e re n o t s u c c e s s fu l a t p r e v e n tin g o r r e d u c in g g a n g in v o lv e m e n t. In 1995, the gang component of the program came to an end. OJJDP’s Comprehensive Response to America's Gang problem The first national assessments of the U.S. gang problem and the establishment in 1988 of the National Youth Gang Suppression and Intervention Program by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) were important parts of the federal response to gangs. The goals of this program were to: (a) to identify and assess promising approaches and strategies for dealing with the youth gang problem, (b) to develop prototypes or models from the information thereby gained, and (c) to produce technical assistance manuals for those who would implement the models (Spergel and Curry, 1993). The project included twelve prototypes or models for gang program development and twelve technical assistance manuals corresponding to each prototype. The major outcome of the project was OJJDP's resolution that community-wide responses were required for dealing with local level gang problems (Bryant, 1989). The Spergel Model The Spergel model, a direct outgrowth of the earlier work of Spergel and Curry (1993), has become the driving force in the OJJDP response to gangs. It is a flexible format for responding to gang problems at the community level. Separate required components focus on community mobilization and employment programs, with one agency acting as the lead or mobilizing agency. In addition, law enforcement plays a central role in this process. Key agencies that must be involved include the police, grassroots neighborhood organizations, and some form of jobs program. The flexibility of the Spergel model encourages local program planners to assess the special features of local gang problems and take advantage of local agency strengths. The guidelines for community mobilization are intended to facilitate interagency cooperation and minimize interagency conflict. Under funding from OJJDP, five demonstration sites received funding to implement and test the Spergel model in a variety of urban settings with coordinated technical assistance and a systematic evaluation led by Spergel. In the Chicago community of Little Village, Spergel (1994; Spergel and Grossman, 1994) has been working with a network of police, outreach youth workers, probation officers, court service workers, and former gang members to reduce violence between two warring coalitions of Latino street gangs. Preliminary evaluation results of this project indicate a reduction in gang-related homicides, increased community organization and mobilization, and the channeling of gang-involved youths into educational programs and jobs. Safe Futures As the first few years of the 1990s brought record increases in levels of juvenile violence, OJJDP became convinced that the problems of serious, violent, and chronic offending and gang-related crime were related. It was decided that a major effort needed to be undertaken to test both the utility of the Comprehensive Strategy and the Spergel Model in specifically targeted geographic settings. The policy result was the Safe Futures Program. With funding from OJJDP, Safe Futures Programs have been established in four urban sites (Boston, Seattle, Contra Costa County (California), and St. Louis), one

rural site (Imperial Valley, California), and one Indian Reservation (Fort Belknap, Montana). Funding for Safe Futures projects is larger ($1.4 million per year) and extended over a longer period of time (a five year commitment) than funding for previous comparable efforts. All sites were funded initially in the fall of 1996. Safe Futures programs incorporate specific suppression, opportunities provision and neighborhood-focused services. As such, they are consistent with the Spergel model, and likely to provide a full test of the effectiveness of this model, a model that integrates suppression with community mobilization. One key characteristic of SafeFutures is very close monitoring by OJJDP and a series of consultants hired through technical assistance contracts. Often it is difficult to determine the impact of a program, owing to the fact that in its implementation it changed substantially from the initial plan. The technical assistance and close oversight is designed to overcome these difficulties. A local evaluation is mandated for each site, and all sites are participating in a national evaluation. Outcome results from all of the sites have not yet been compiled. Flowever, the results from St. Louis are not encouraging. Safe Futures youth fared more poorly in terms of repeat offending and seriousness of offending than did matched youth who did not receive Safe Futures services (Decker, Curry, Baumer, Bossier, Weldle and Schnebly, 2002). Even when controls for age, number of prior offenses and prior offense seriousness were included, no positive results could be found for either the group of Safe Futures clients who received the most intensive services or those who received lower levels of service. The evaluators did conclude, however, that mounting large-scale interventions designed to change the delivery of services to youths is very difficult. A number of the Safe Futures sites have struggled with the Spergel Model as well as local issues in moving toward implementation. For example, in St. Louis, the Safe Futures site has had difficulty integrating law enforcement and community mobilization - both key components of the model - into service delivery and client identification. The evaluators in St. Louis caution that given implementation difficulties, it is not possible to determine whether the Safe Futures model failed or the implementation of the model itself failed. The National Youth Gang Center The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) fund the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC). In addition to conducting an annual survey, it serves as a clearinghouse for gang information and research, a forum for discussion and exchange among practitioners and researchers, as well as between practitioners and researchers. The NYGC prepares many useful summaries of information regarding gang legislation, promising programs and interventions, schools and gangs, state specific activity summaries and other topical issues. The NYGC also serves to coordinate the activities of the Youth Gang Consortium, as well as providing technical assistance to units of government, non-governmental organizations, and criminal justice groups. The Technical Assistance role of the NYGC is considerable, and has become focused on two specific areas: (1) the Rural Gang Initiative and (2) Gang-Free Schools and Communities. It serves as one of the premier resources in finding out about gangs, as well as formulating responses to gang problems.


Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Anti-Gang Initiative Community oriented policing represents an even broader federal effort to respond to crime in a way that integrates law enforcement into a cooperative community problem-solving framework. In 1996, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office in the Justice Department launched a fifteen city Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI). Instead of being selected through a competitive application process, the fifteen cities were selected on the basis of their consistency in providing gang-related crime statistics to the Justice Department surveys described above. Funding was mandated to be spent on community policing efforts, to improve data collection, to integrate law enforcement agencies into community-wide responses to gangs, and to provide a safer setting in which less suppressive response programs can be given a chance to develop. In total, $11 million was made available to the cities, in $1 million or $500,000 allocations depending on city size. The sites included Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jersey City, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Orange County, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and St. Louis. The three specific goals of the program were to: (1) develop strategies to reduce gang-related problems, (2) develop strategies to reduce gang-related drug trafficking problems, and (3) to reduce the fear instilled by gang-related activities. Each jurisdiction was required to develop a formal written characterization of their local gang problem to include the number of gangs, members, age ranges, reasons for joining a gang, source and location of recruitment, location of activities, reasons for migration and incidents of gang-related crime. These characterizations called for considerable detail, detail in most cities that was simply not available through traditional law enforcement data gathering. In many jurisdictions local researchers were included in the process of developing the view of gangs in the city. Eight specific strategies were identified. Three of the departments (Detroit, Jersey City and St. Louis) chose to use special curfew enforcement strategies to target juveniles out after curfew hours. Six jurisdictions (Boston, Indianapolis, Miami, Oakland, Phoenix and St. Louis) emphasized the need to coordinate their funded activities with ongoing efforts to combat drugs and gang that were already in place. In Boston, this meant that the AGI effort was specifically linked to the Safe Futures funding received from OJJDP, and in Phoenix a tie was developed between the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program and AGI efforts. The most popular strategy was Organizational Development and Change. Spergel and Curry (1993) have identified this as a core response strategy of law enforcement to gang problems. Not surprisingly, eleven of the fifteen departments used some form of this strategy. Typically, this approach attempts to enhance existing interventions by changing an overall organization or strategic response by bringing new partners to the table. This often meant that police departments sought out the assistance of other law enforcement partners, but also turned to the schools or social service agencies for help. Six cities saw information sharing as a key strategy to be funded by AGI monies. Often this meant the use of enhanced technology to provide presentations, transfer data, or conduct analyses. For example, many cities took the opportunity to use Geographic Information System technology to map gang, drug and youth crime activities.


Eight of the jurisdictions chose to track gang members, through the use of an enhanced or expanded database. In this way, they sought to better understand the number and nature of membership, and use that information for developing additional strategies and tactics of suppression. Nine of the jurisdictions specifically included schools as a partner in their COPS funded Anti-Gang Initiative. Often this meant enhancing GREAT or PAL activities, but in some cases new partnerships were developed. Finally, eight of the jurisdictions mounted a community organization strategy, seeking to engage citizens and neighborhoods in crime prevention and control. Typically this meant that presentations and meetings were held. Each jurisdiction was required to set aside five percent of total funds for the purposes of conducting an evaluation. These evaluations were largely focused on process issues, given the small amount of money available and limited time frame. Unfortunately, to date there has been no effort to make those evaluations available in a form that could shed light on the feasibility, impact or future of such interventions. What is clear from those sites with completed evaluations is that those areas of intervention that the police controlled themselves (i.e., suppression) generally worked according to plan. However, partnership ventures were considerably more difficult to accomplish. Given the Spergel and Curry insistence on linking suppression and opportunities provision, the likely impact of these efforts is temporary or quite small. Youth Firearms Violence Initiative (YFVI) Another COPS response to increased levels of firearm violence among youth was the Youth Firearms Violence Initiative (YFVI). Ten cities were selected to each receive $1 million dollars for a one year period. The objective of this effort was to reduce violent firearm crime by youth. Departments were to develop innovative programs that enhanced proactive crime control efforts and prevention programs targeted at young persons. Specifically, the COPS office wanted evidence that the number of violent firearm crimes committed by youth declined. Additionally, the agency expected that the number of firearms-related gang offenses and the number of firearms-related drug offenses would decline. Each participating department was required to develop new initiatives in three areas: (1) innovative strategies or tactics, (2) community policing orientation, and (3) new information systems. The ten cities included Binningham, AL, Bridgeport, CT, Milwaukee, WI, Richmond, VA, Seattle, WA, Baltimore, MD, Cleveland, OH, Inglewood, CA, Salinas, CA, and San Antonio, TX. Local evaluations and a national evaluation were completed examining the efforts of each site. There was considerable variation across participating sites regarding the strategies and tactics employed to achieve these objectives. Not surprisingly, most strategies emphasized enforcement, though some combined enforcement with prevention. The tactics included such things as focusing on specific targets (gangs), neighborhoods, firearm crimes, and the use of dedicated units to address these issues specifically. The Inglewood, CA site employed one of the most innovative strategies. Inglewood is a medium-sized city in the Los Angeles area with predominantly African-American and Hispanic residents. Inglewood chose to target a single neighborhood of relatively small size where a full­ time prosecutor and probation officer worked with the police department. The prosecutor worked to develop a STEP injunction, the Street Terrorist Prevention Act that was discussed above, which is becoming a popular tactic in California. The probation officer was responsible


for seizing hundreds of firearms from youth on probation, employing his powers to search the residences of his probationers. The officers’ efforts serve as an example of the kind of innovative work that can be forged between different agencies of the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, these partnerships - seen as critical to the success of the prevention and suppression of crime - vanished when grant funding ended. This raises the important issue of sustainability, the extent to which innovations and partnerships can be sustained once the money runs out. The national evaluation demonstrated the plausibility of the hypothesis that the interventions in most cities were accompanied by reductions in gun offenses. A specific geographic area matched to the program area was chosen for comparison purposes and gun offenses were tracked by week for the two-year period prior to YFVI efforts and the one-year period after the program. In each of the five impact evaluation sites, the decline in gun offenses per week was greater than that of the comparison area. While this is not conclusive proof that YFVI was solely responsible for the observed declines, it is consistent with that hypothesis. In almost every case, YFVI was strictly a suppression program; only rarely did it effectively integrate the activities of social service or prevention activities. However, in those cities where such activities were integrated (especially Milwaukee, Inglewood, and Seattle), those activities and relationships remain well after the conclusion of the program.


Local Gang Strategies The Boston Gun Suppression Project Perhaps no single intervention in the 1990s has received as much public attention as the Boston Gun Suppression Project (Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga, 1996; Boston Police Department and Partners, 1997). Also known as Ceasefire, this project has been replicated in a number of cities across the country, including Minneapolis where it has been carefully evaluated (Kennedy and Braga, 1998). At its heart, Ceasefire employs the SARA problem-solving model (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) to assess youth violence. The SARA model requires that local jurisdictions gather data to determine the nature of local problems, analyze those data, and based on those processes design a response to solve problems. The final step of the SARA model requires that the response be carefully assessed and re-calibrated. The apparent success of this intervention largely rests on two features: (1) the careful background work conducted to understand the nature of youth firearms markets, and (2) partnerships among the participating groups. Kennedy and his colleagues determined that the youth firearm market was different from that of adults, was comprised of a relatively small group of serious offenders, was largely based on fear of attack by rival youth who often were gang members, and that stealing guns was the primary means of acquiring guns by young people. These findings led them to conclude that traditional methods of intervention may not be successful. The Boston Gun Project involves a large interagency working group, that consists of representatives from the local police department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the US Attorney, the local prosecutor, the departments of probation and parole, city youth outreach workers, the school district and Kennedy’s research team. The working group meets regularly to review research and operational findings, and it is from these meetings that a response plan was developed. Two complimentary strategies were developed, one that attempted to disrupt the illegal firearms market on the supply side, and the other targeted at the demand side. On the supply side, ATF worked with local police, prosecutors, and the US Attorney to step up gun tracing and prosecution efforts. It is the demand side where the most interesting interventions were developed, however. Probation and parole officers engaged in night visits to their clients to enforce routine conditions of sentence that had not been regularly enforced. Curfews and room searches were conducted as part of this effort. This was coupled with a series of dramatic meetings with local gang members attended by key law enforcement officials to announce and demonstrate the effects of a zero-tolerance policy for the use of guns by youth in a number of Boston neighborhoods. The initial evaluations of the Boston Gun Project demonstrated that it was quite successful. Youth gun crime, particularly homicides, recorded dramatic declines in Boston, even greater declines than those throughout the rest of the nation. Kennedy, Piehl and Braga (1996) conducted both a process and outcome evaluation that demonstrated key components of the project. Kennedy and Braga (1998) replicated the Ceasefire project in Minneapolis with similar results. What were the key features of this effort to reduce gang firearm violence that appear to have made it successful? First, the intervention is based on data from local law enforcement and is presented in a way that leads naturally to policy interventions. Second, the use of data to guide


the project did not end once the intervention began. Rather, the researchers continued to collect data and use it to refine the intervention on an on-going basis. Third, the intervention combined the efforts of a variety of committed groups and individuals. As Spergel and Curry remind us, no program based on a single form of intervention is likely to achieve success. By combining suppression at a number of levels (federal, state and local) with social opportunities provision and broader based enforcement (probation and parole), Boston found ways to get a handle on its gang problem. The specific strategy that seemed to be most effective was the lever pulling sessions (Kennedy, 2001) that provided a specific deterrent to gang members in the community. Unfortunately, it is difficult to sustain an initiative, as they found out in Boston. Changes in personnel, shifting priorities within the city, and the improvement in the problem area led officials to shift attention elsewhere. Perhaps as a consequence of this inattention (McDevitt, et al., 20023) rates of youth homicide and violence have increased in recent years. These results suggest that while forming coalitions that focus on problem solving can be difficult, sustaining them may be even harder. Promising results from initiatives based on the Boston model have been reported for a Los Angeles Barrio (Tita, Riley and Greenwood, 2002) and Indianapolis (McGarrell and Chermak, 2002). In each, a problem solving approach has been utilized to collect data, engage the community and forge responses that involve the use of “level pulling”. This model has recently been adopted by the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, the Bush administration’s gun violence, problem-solving initiative (www.psn.gov). The Illinois Gang Crime Prevention Center In 1995, the Governor of Illinois established the Governor’s Commission on Gangs and appointed the Illinois Attorney General to serve as the chairman. The Commission was to be responsible for generating practical solutions to the growing street gang problem in Illinois. After nine months of research focused on examining the gang problem in Illinois, as well as community mobilization, future legislation, public awareness and parental education, law enforcement, and safety in schools; the Commission recommended a comprehensive strategy to integrate suppression, prevention, and intervention strategies and the creation of an organization to focus on reducing gang activity statewide (Governor’s Commission on Gangs, 1996). The Gang Crime Prevention Center (GCPC) was designed and created to serve this function. The Center began operating on July 1, 1997. The GCPC was separated into four units: community mobilization, program development, research and information services, and operations. These units work together to develop, implement and evaluate organization- and neighborhood-based programs. The GCPC has utilized a seven-step program development process to create, fund, and implement five gang prevention pilot programs in Illinois. The seven steps include: collaboration and problem definition, site assessment and target population, approach and mission, strategy and resource development, implementation and operation, monitoring and evaluation, and modification and evolution. The five pilot programs, implemented in 1998, include two court-based (Early Intervention Probation and Evening Reporting Center) and three school-based (Student Covenant for the Future, Mentoring/Tutoring, and Right Track Truancy


Reduction) programs; all concerned with preventing gang membership and intervention and suppression for active gang members (Leverentz, 1999). The Early Intervention Probation Program focuses on youth already involved, to some extent, with gangs, delinquent activities and the juvenile justice system. The other court-based program, Evening Reporting Center (ERC) also utilizes intervention and suppression techniques for youth previously exposed to the juvenile justice system. The ERC is modeled after the Eight Percent Solution in Orange County, California. The ERC program focuses on youth most likely to become the chronic, serious offenders of tomorrow. The programs identify and intervene with youth who are headed towards a criminal career. Objectives include both individual skill building and family-oriented services (Schumacher and Kurz, 2000). The three school-based programs are also located in specific geographic locations throughout the state of Illinois. Lovejoy Elementary School is the home of the Mentoring/Tutoring program, Kelly High School houses the Student Covenant for the Future, and Springfield was chosen as the site of the Right Track Truancy Reduction program. These five sites were chosen by the Gang Crime Prevention Center because of the specific target population and objectives for each of the programs. The two court-based programs target youth already exposed to gangs and gang activities and utilize intervention and suppression strategies. The school-based programs, specifically the Mentoring/Tutoring Program, target younger recipients and opt for prevention as a goal. Elowever, both the Student Covenant and Truancy Programs include intervention and suppression strategies along with prevention measures. Without exception, all of these programs involve some kind of partnership between community agencies, schools, and/or law enforcement agencies. Some of the agencies/participants involved with the programs include: the Attorney General’s Office, the public school districts, the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association, probation and parole departments, the mental health department, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Children and Family Services, Social Service Programs, and law enforcement agencies. The Gang Crime Prevention Center is currently being evaluated with regards to the implementation, process and impact of its pilot programs and its role in developing, implementing, overseeing, evaluating, and replicating social programs. Preliminary implementation results indicate that with the exception of the Evening Reporting Center the programs have broader foci than just gangs; and that some of the programs (Mentoring/Tutoring, Student Covenant, and Right Track Truancy) do not emphasize gangs as a central program component. Participants in at least one of the programs, the Mentoring/Tutoring program, dissuade any discussion of gangs and gang membership. These participants focus on academic tutoring and emotional/social mentoring. This is in hope that the youth will do better in school and thus, stay in school and, hopefully, away from gangs. These programs provide social, emotional, behavioral or academic benefits for the participants; but do not seem to be targeting at-risk or gang-involved youth for the purposes expressed in the Governor’s Commission on Gangs report (Governor’s Commission on Gangs, 1996). The direction of these programs has changed from the original plans (implementation changes) as well as during the life of the program (process changes). The sustainability and replicability of these pilot programs are problematic as the programs do not focus as much on gang prevention and intervention as originally intended. However, these programs represent an important state


level response in a state with serious gang problems. The GCPC remains a viable operation, having survived a change in political party in the Governor’s mansion in Illinois. This is perhaps an important indicator of the sustainability of the program.


Conclusion The last decade has produced an unprecedented increase in gangs, gun assaults and youth homicide. These increases have spurred federal and local governments to action. In the search for appropriate responses to these problems, suppression has been the strategy most likely to be adopted. That this was the model response of government makes sense for a variety of political and pragmatic reasons; after all, the police are a visible and generally popular resource in the effort to combat crime. In addition, suppression responses carry political capital with today's electorate. However, such responses are not likely to be successful on their own. When suppression occurs in a vacuum, when it is not accompanied by other more supportive actions, the chances of making lasting changes in gang crime are diminished. And as Klein and others have cautioned, it is possible that suppression-only interventions and certain kind of suppression efforts are likely to make the problem worse. A number of federal initiatives that emphasize suppression or social opportunities provision have been undertaken in the last decade. The COPS Office’s Anti-Gang Initiative is a good example of programs that were based almost exclusively on suppression. This is counter-balanced by the effort of DHHS in its Youth Gang Drug Prevention program. This heavily funded federal effort focused exclusively on social intervention and social opportunities provision. It is most unfortunate that the evaluation data do not enable a definitive conclusion about the effectiveness of either intervention. However, it is clear that neither intervention by itself has made substantial inroads into the gang problem in the communities where they were funded because of the failure to implement a balanced response of suppression and broader social interventions and opportunities provision. If there is a single message in this paper, it is that law enforcement and the provision of social opportunities and interventions must work hand-inhand if successful interventions are to be implemented. The success of any initiative, as demonstrated by the Boston Gun Project, hinges largely on its ability to integrate a number of approaches. Gangs are not a monolith, as the recent typology of gang structure developed by Maxson and Klein (1998) clearly demonstrates. Their typology reinforces the view of gangs as diverse, both within and across communities, and these results underscore the need for a variety of responses. The key to a successful response to gangs is the recognition that gangs vary by type, within and between cities, and that successful responses must be built on a solid knowledge base. Klein is often critical of the police because they characterize gangs and gang members as overly organized, more seriously criminal, and more dedicated to the gang than is actually the case. He argues that this conception of gangs and gang members dominates the public and criminal justice understanding of this phenomenon, thereby distorting the fact that most gangs are loosely committed to their gang, that they are involved in a wide-range of mostly minor criminal and delinquent acts, and that gangs are not effective vehicles for social organization. Without multiple sources of information and a coordinated response that involves both suppression and social opportunities provision, little progress will be made in responding to gangs, and unless we do a better job of evaluating the impact of such programs, we will continue to flounder. It is important to conclude this review with a few suggestions about the reasons why so many gang interventions have little effect on gang crime, gang membership or the general popularity of gangs. This review highlighted gang processes, arguing that paying closer attention to the processes by which gang members come to be involved in the gang, in violence, and in exiting the gang provide important cues for intervention strategies. Based almost exclusively on suppression, the American gang intervention 60

strategy (some may argue that it is generous to call it a strategy) fails to capture the vulnerabilities of adolescent lives in important stages of these processes. And social opportunities interventions (such as jobs programs or job training) have not been attuned to the transitions that occur in the lives of adolescents as they join gangs, engage in violence, or make decisions to leave their gangs. Unless such programs can do a better job of responding to the realities of gang life, they are certain to have little effect on reducing gang crime or gang membership. Interventions must pay closer heed to the significance of the gang processes highlighted in this paper. The life experiences of gang members, indeed all adolescents, reflect the processes that affect their daily activities. Those charged with responding to gangs must employ problem-solving models that have proven successful in other settings (McGarrell, 2001, McDevitt, Braga, and Nurge, 2001). Such approaches emphasize the four-step problem-solving model that employs Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment (SARA). Programs that rely only on suppression or social opportunities miss the importance of responding to the ebbs and flows of the lives of adolescents. This approach highlights the need for crisis intervention workers who can respond to the social processes that have an impact on youth. Such crisis workers need to be available in the neighborhoods where young people live and play, on the school grounds where they interact with their friends and in the emergency rooms where they are brought for treatment. Such opportunities are critical for successful intervention in the social processes that provide the foundation for life in the gang. It is critical in this process to tie research, theory and practice together. One of the key elements of a successful intervention is the ability to share information among partners in an intervention. Finally, there is a great need for communication among agencies, particularly those in the community, law enforcement, juvenile justice and corrections. In this process, it is important to be proactive but not over-react.


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References cont’d.__________________________________ Kennedy, D., A. Piehl, and A. Braga 1996. “Youth Violence in Boston: Gun Markets, Serious Youth Offenders, and a Use-Reduction Strategy.” Law and Contemporary Problems, Volume 59: 147-196. Kennedy, D. and A. Braga. 1998 “Homicide in Minneapolis.” Homicide Studies, Volume 2: 263-290. Kennedy, D. 2001. “Pulling Levers: Getting Deterrence Right.” Pp. 309-315 In J. Miller, C. Maxson and M. Klein (Eds.) The Modem Gang Reader, 2nd Edition. Los Angeles: Roxbury. Kent, D. and G. Felkenes. 1998. Cultural Explanations for Vietnamese Youth Involvement in Street Gangs. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Klein, M. W. 1971. Street Gangs and Street Workers. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Klein, M. W. 1995. Street Gang Cycles. In Wilson, J.Q., and Petersilia, J. (eds.), Crime. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies. Klein, M. W. 1995. The American Street Gang. New York: Oxford University Press. Klein, M. W. 2001. Street Gangs: A Cross-National Perspective.” Pp. 237-254 in R. Huff (Ed.) Gangs in America III. Newbury Park, CA.: Sage. Knox, G. W. 2000. A national assessment of gangs and security threat groups (STGs) in adult correctional institutions: Results of the 1999 Adult Corrections Survey. Journal o f Gang Research, 7, 1-45. Knox, G. W. and E. D. Tromanhauser. 1991. Gangs and their control in adult correctional institutions. The Prison Journal, 71, 15-22. Knox, G. W. and A. V. Papachristos. 2002. The Vice Lords: A Gang Profile Analysis. Chicago: New Chicago School Press, Inc. Landre, R., M. Miller, M., and D. Porter. 1997. Gangs: A handbook fo r community awareness. New York: Facts On File, Inc. Lane, M.P. (1989, July). Inmate gangs. Corrections Today, 51, 98-99. Los Angeles City Attorney. 2001. Civil Gang Abatement: A Community Based Policing Tool of the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney. Pp. 320-329, in J. Miller, C. Maxson and M. Klein (Eds.) The Modem Gang Reader. Los Angeles: Roxbury. Lien, I-L.. 2001. In M. Klein, et al., The Eurogang Paradox. Lyman, M.D. 1989. Gangland. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. Major, A. K. and H. A. Egley Jr. 2002. 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Maxson, C. L., and M. W. Klein. 1994. The Scope of Street Gang Migration in the U.S. Presentation. Gangs Working Group. National Institute of Justice.


References cont’d Maxson, C.L., M. A. Gordon, and M. W. Klein. 1985. Differences between Gang and Nongang Homicides. Criminology 23: 209-222. Maxson, C. L. and M. W. Klein. 1995. Investigating Gang Structures. Journal of Gang Research 3:33-40. Maxson, C. L. 1997. Evaluation of the Inglewood, CA Youth Firearm Violence Initiative. University of Southern California. McCorkle, R. C. and T. D. Miethe. 2002. Panic: The Social Construction of the Street Gang Problem. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. McGarrell, E. and S. Chermak. 2002. Problem Solving to Reduce Gang and Drug-Related Violence in Indianapolis. Pp. 77-101 in S. Decker (Ed.) Policing Gangs and Youth Violence. Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth. Miethe, T. D. and R. C. McCorkle. 2002. Evaluating Nevada's Antigang Legislation and Gang Prosecution Units. Pp. 169-196, in W. L. Reed and S. H. Decker (Eds.) Responding to Gangs: Evaluation and Research. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice. Miller, W. B. 1975. Violence by Youth Gangs and Youth Groups as a Crime Problem in Major American Cities. Monograph. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Miller, W. B. 1982. Crime by Youth Gangs and Groups in the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice. Miller, W. B. 2001. The Growth of Youth Gang Problems in the United States: 1970-1998. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Miller, J. 2001. One of the Guys: Gangs, Girls and Gender. New York: Oxford. Montgomery R.H., Jr., and G. A. Crews. 1998. A history o f correctional violence: an examination o f reported causes o f riots and disturbances. Lanham, MD: American Correctional Association. Moore, J. W. 1978. Homeboys: Gangs, Drugs, and Prison in the Barrios of Los Angeles. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Orlando-Morningstar, D. 1997. Prison gangs. Special Needs Offender Bulletin, 2, 1-13. Padilla, F. 1992. The Gang as an American Enterprise. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Papachristos, A. V. 2001. After the Disciples: The Neighborhood Impact of Federal Gang Prosecution. Peotone, IL.: New Chicago School Press. Pelz, M.E., J. W. Marquart and C. T. Pelz. 1991. Right-wing extremism in the Texas prisons: the rise and fall of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. The Prison Journal, 7 f 23-37. Ralph, P.H., and J. W. Marquart. 1991. Gang violence in Texas prisons. The Prison Journal, 71, 38-49.


References cont’d._________________________________ Rees, T.A., Jr. 1996. Joining the gang: A look at youth gang recruitment. Journal o f Gang Research, 4, 19-25. Sanchez-Jankowski, M. 1991. Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society. Berkeley: University of California. Sanyika Shakur, aka Monster Kody Scott. 1994. Monster: the autobiography of an L.A. gang member. New York: Penguin Books, 1994. Shelden, R.G. 1991. A comparison of gang members and non-gang members in a prison setting. The Prison Journal, 71, 50-60. Short, J. F., Jr., and F. L. Strodtbeck. 1965. (1974, 2nd Ed.) Group Process and Gang Delinquency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Short, J. F. 1985. "The Level of Explanation Problem." In R. Meier (ed.), Theoretical Methods in Criminology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Skolnick, J.. 1990. The Social Structure of Street Drug Dealing. American Journal of Police 9:1-41. Spergel, I. A. 1985. Youth Gang Activity and the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago: University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration Spergel, I. A. and G. D. Curry. 1993. “The National Youth Gang Survey: A Research and Development Process”. In A. P. Goldstein and C. R. Huff (Eds.) Gang Intervention Handbook, pp. 359-400. Champaign, IL: Research Press. Spergel, I. A. 1994. Gang Suppression and Intervention: Problem and Response. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Spergel, I. A. 1995. The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach. New York: Oxford. Stastny C., and G. Tyrnauer. 1983. Who rules the joint? The changing political culture o f maximum-security prisons in America. Lexington Books. Tita, G. K. J. Riley and P. Greenwood. 2002. From Boston to Boyle Heights: The Process and Prospects of a “Pulling Levers” Strategy in a Los Angeles Barrio. Pp. 102-130 in S. Decker (Ed.) Policing Gangs and Youth Violence. Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth. Toller, W. and B. Tsagaris. 1996. Managing institutional gangs: A practical approach combining security and human services. Corrections Today, 58, 100-111. Thomberry, T., M. D. Krohn, A. J. Lizotte, and D. Chard-Wierschem. 1993. The role of juvenile gangs in facilitating delinquent behavior. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 30: 55-87. Thrasher, F. 1927. The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tromanhauser, E. F., T. Corcoran, and A. Lollino. 1981. The Chicago Safe School Study. Chicago: City of Chicago, Chicago Board of Education.


References cont’d.__________________________________ Van Gemert, F. E. 2001. “Crips in Orange: Gangs and Groups in the Netherlands.” Pp. 145-152 in Malcolm Klein, Hans Jurgen-Kerner, C. Maxson and Elmar Weitekamp (Eds.) The Eurogang Paradox: Street Gangs and Youth Groups in the U.S. and Europe. Boston: Kluwer. Venkatesh, S. A. 1997. The Social Organization of Street Gang Activity in an Urban Ghetto. American Journal of Sociology, 101: 82-111. Vigil, J. D. 1988. Barrio Gangs. Austin: University of Texas Press. Vigil, J. D. 2002. A Rainbow of Gangs: Street Cultures in the Mega-City. Austin: University of Texas Press. Wells, J. B., K. I. Minor, E. Angel, L. Carter and M. Cox. 2002. A Study of Gangs and Security Threat Groups in America's Adult Prisons and Jails. Richmond, KY: National Major Gang Task Force. Williams, K., G. D. Curry, and M. I. Cohen. 2002. Gang Prevention Programs for Female Adolescents: An Evaluation. Pp. 225-263 in W. L. Reed and S. H. Decker (Eds.) Responding to Gangs: Research and Evaluation. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice. Wilson, W. J. 1985. The Truly Disadvantaged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. United States Department of Justice. 1992. Management strategies in disturbances and with gangs /disruptive groups. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.


Gang Information Websites www.fgia.com - Florida Gang Investigators Association www.iir.com/nygc - National Youth Gang Center www.nagia.org - National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association www.nmgtf.org - National Major Gang Task Force www.psn.gov - Project Safe Neighborhoods www.ojp.usdoi.gov - Office of Justice Programs www.oi idp.ncirs.org - Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention www.sonoma.edu/cia/info/infos.html - The Redwood Highway: Crime, law and related web links