Gangs in Our Society

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Gangs: The Effect on Society 2 Abstract
Crime is a growing problem in cities around the United States. A big part of this problem can be attributed to gangs. The number of people who get injured or killed by gang violence continues to rise. Some people feel the criminal justice system is failing to control the growth and strength of gangs in communities and prisons alike. In today’s society, the age of gang members continues to decrease while the number of them continues to increase. As youth continue to age the chance that they will end up in prison increases. There will be focus on the relationship between prison and street gangs and how society is affected as a result of these gangs. It is important to look at how gang violence can be reduced if not prevented all together. Introduction and Background

Gangs in America flourish in an environment where basic social institutions such as family, role models, and education are weak. Often found in ghettos and poor, lower class neighborhoods, gangs can also thrive in rural and suburban areas (Palmer, 2010). Before we begin to explore the various aspects of gangs, it is important to define what a gang is. There are many definitions and much debate about gangs among law enforcement and scholars. For this reason constructing a definition that represents all types of gangs becomes problematic and almost impossible. For this paper I will use the Ohio Revised Code definition of a gang which is, “Any organization, association, or group of persons, either formal or informal, which may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol, whose members or associates engage in activities

Gangs: The Effect on Society 3 which include, but are not limited to: planning, organizing, threatening, financing, soliciting, or committing unlawful acts” (Steele, 2011). History of Gangs

It is not known when gangs first came into existence but the word thug dates back to the 1200’s. Thug is derived from the word “thugz”, which is an Indian word that refers to a gang of criminals who would travel the country causing trouble (Padilla, 1992). Gang activity became most prominent in the United States in the 1920’s due to Al Capone, also known as Scarface. Due to Prohibition during this time, criminal gangs began to distribute alcohol on the black market. Capone influenced many would-be gangsters and by the 1950’s there were a number of cities with gangs committing crimes at an alarming rate.

Street gangs have changed over the years with respect to their goals, the age of members, their commitment to delinquency, and the level of violence. Adamson (1998) attributes this change to immigration, population movement, economic transformations, racial and ethnic conflict and the changing fabric of neighborhood and family life. Methodology

Information presented in this paper came from a variety of sources. Among them are interviews, review of literature, and gang training. There have been many residents of the correctional facility this author has worked over the years who are members of youth gangs in their communities. The majority of them have family members who are currently serving time in prison for gang related crimes. This author attended a gang training put on by the Ohio Supreme Gangs: The Effect on Society 4 Court Judicial College in which many of the speakers are experts in the fields they work in. Vinko Kucinic, a Security Threat Group Investigations Coordinator with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections provided a great deal of...
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