Street Gangs. This essay will discuss the response to street gangs within the United States of America. I will define a street gang; how street gangs are formed, and what they consist of. This essay will discuss theories such as; Cohens (1955)

Authors Avatar

American Criminal Justice

This essay will discuss the response to street gangs within the United States of America.  I will define a ‘street gang’; how street gangs are formed, and what they consist of.  This essay will discuss theories such as; Cohen’s (1955) Strain Theory and Differential Opportunity.  Finally, l will attempt to assess the responses of prevention, intervention and suppression.  The question of what constitutes a ‘street gang’ is debatable, as it is suggested there is no single accepted definition of youth gangs.  Street gangs existence centers on the street or locality and whose membership is youthful, and may be believed that these types of street gangs are associations of peers and friends who have mutual interests and most of all is definitely associated with crime.   A well known example of two particular street gangs within the US would be the infamous Cripps and Bloods of Los Angeles which actually comprise about one hundred sets of groups often named after the Main Street of their area (Bing, 1992, cited in Cremin, 2009).

In the 1920s it was estimated by Thrasher that there was around 1,313 gangs in Chicago alone. Thrasher’s (1936) study was the first to look at group’s processes and psychology of gang life. Through his study of 1,313 Chicago gangs, he concluded gangs are parts of the psychology and group process of teenagers in economically deprived communities. According to Thrasher,(1936) groups originally formed spontaneously, intergraded through conflict and are characterized by the following types of behavior: meeting face to face, movements within locality individually or collectively that incorporate, and conflict organized criminal planning.    

Although, it may be believed that there is not one clear definition in the explanation of what is a ‘street gang’, however, one example is provided by the California Penal Code, (2008) within Dangerous Weapons Control Law, which states; “any organization, association or group of three or more persons whether formal or informal, which has common name, identifying sign or symbol, where members individually or collectively engage in, or engaged in a pattern of criminal activity which are gathered together to continuing basis to commit anti social behavior”

The question of what to do about gangs is prefaced by Hallsworth and Young, (2004) highlighting the impact that gang activity in the U.S.A.  Despite an ongoing debate over the wisdom of importing initiatives from another culture the American influence on policy is still evident. The research paper commissioned by the Home Office ‘Shootings, Gangs and Violent Incidents in Manchester’ by Bullock & Tilley (2002) is based partly on the success of an ‘Operation Ceasefire’ in Boston (Harvard).  However as Colman and Norris (2000:65) recognize, there is little evidence to suggest the gang phenomenon is the same in both countries, Muncie (1999) and Downes (1966).  

Join now!

In working out what to do about gangs it might be best to work out what causes them.  In Maslow’s (1971) basic human need for belonging with Adler (1939) and Crandall’s (1981) work to suggest the argument that in the absence of an effective functioning family, and further more explains that, those various individuals who want to join a street gang, will seek support from anywhere they can get it. 

 In order to survive people require protection and increasingly other research suggests that gang formation is based on territory rather than ethnicity as discussed by ...

This is a preview of the whole essay