Street gangs involve themselves at a high level of violent and serious criminal activities as compared to their non-gang counterparts. In many cases, street gangs are found to be involved in drug crimes and gun violence. The rise in street gang criminal activities is alarming and not only is it a problem to those in the neighborhoods where they thrive but also to everyone as they are rapidly moving from the cities to the suburbs. The criminal justice system is entitled to the responsibility of fighting the criminal activities emanating from these street gangs. However, in fighting these gangs, the criminal justice system is faced with numerous problems that limit their authority to eradicate the problem out of the streets. This paper identifies the problems faced by the criminal justice system in fighting street gangs, criminological theories, and prevention and intervention strategies.
Issues With Street Gangs
The street gangs are often associated with disturbances and violence in cities and neighborhoods hence the criminal justice system is faced with a problem of determining the best approaches to suppress these gangs. The system has a challenge in developing the most effective and efficient ways meant to prevent or even reduce the criminal activities emanating from the street gangs to create a peaceful society (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2018). Rehabilitation is an important component in efforts to reform the street gangs. However, the criminal justice system is faced with a shortage of funding from the government. The amount of funding required from the government by the justice system is not enough to cater for rehabilitation services for the large and ever-increasing street gang population. In fighting crime, the criminal justice system needs to be highly responsive in handling the street gangs and to achieve this, the system needs to have specific laws that are to be used in punishing those caught committing a crime. However, the system lacks enough support from the legislators in formulating specific laws to curb criminal activities from the street gangs.
The criminal justice system is also faced with minorities' challenges in dealing with street gangs. The criminal justice system is tasked with protecting the rights of minorities during an arrest. The minorities can range from the people who are marginalized to those considered ethnic or racial minorities. The criminal justice system is expected to be much more responsive in protecting minority rights when making arrests or dealing with the various gang groups (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2018). This is because the minorities create a perception in society on how the minority groups are handled. The criminal justice system is thus faced with a problem of developing more responsive mechanisms to protect the rights of the minority groups.
There also exists discrimination challenges directed towards the minority groups who are street gang members. The discrimination concerns need to be avoided by law enforcement to indicate their professionalism in law enforcement (Vigil, 2019). When discrimination becomes part of the criminal justice system, the rights of the various groups of people especially of the minorities would be at risk. Greater diversity is thus needed in the criminal justice system to help reduce the incidents of discrimination when dealing with certain groups of criminals especially the street gangs. Lack of discretion is another issue that concerns handling minorities in street gangs. Lack of discretion means that inappropriate force may be applied when handling minorities in street gangs. The criminal justice system is required to exercise a high level of discretion in handling minorities.
In fighting the street gangs, the criminal justice system is also faced with issues concerning the juveniles in these gangs. The system has no clear strategies of preventing the juveniles from joining the street gangs. Preventing young children is a major step in combating street gangs and hence there need to be mechanisms to prevent the kids from these unlawful groups to reduce the gang membership and influence in the society. Criminal justice has limited community policing mechanisms to educate young kids against joining street gangs. Another problem the criminal justice encounters in handling the juveniles is how to prosecute them differently from the adult gang members (Vigil, 2019). The criminal justice through the court system has to develop discretion measures on how to prosecute the children members of the gang. The discretion is based on the jury decision on the responsive approaches that would not violate the rights of the children. The process of prosecution for the juvenile is, therefore, a major consideration by the criminal justice.
Finally, there arise challenges in reforming the young kids involved with street gangs. The criminal justice is tasked with developing an alternative reform process other than incarceration which is less crime deterrent. The criminal justice is tasked with the challenge of building rehabilitation and reforms steps essential for the criminal justice system as a more responsive way to reduce the juveniles from joining the groups and making them useful members of the society.
The social structure theories maintain that the chief root of criminal activities is belonging to the poor and underprivileged societal classes in society. The root cause of crime is the socioeconomic structures in the society. A high population is living in poverty filling the poor neighborhoods with insufficient housing, low employment opportunities, dysfunctional family life and minimum desire to achieve. The rise in deteriorating economic and social structures in the economy contribute to an increase in street crimes (Hall, 2011). The social structures theories also suggest that uneven allocation of wealth makes the lower social class engage in crime as they feel neglected from the other high placed social classes. The frustration among the people in the lower social class drives them to seek alternative means to obtain a livelihood.
The social processes theories, on the other hand, hold that crime is a result of peoples' interactions with associations, social institutions, and societal procedures. People having negative relationships with these institutions around them causes crime. With negative relations, people cannot achieve their goals in a conventional way hence they seek alternatives in criminal activities (Jones, et al, 2007). In the social processes theories, people spend a good time in lawful activities and only engage in criminal activities when that need arises. Disorganization and strain among people result in the formation of subcultures which form and run gangs.
The social structure and the social processes theories compare by the fact that crime arises from efforts to escape a compelling situation. In both theories, the social stratification in the society between the lower class and middle class is the major cause of crime. According to Hall (2011), "Street gangs are formed, and commit violence, because of these social strata and the effect it has on the community. The social need to succeed in our society by obtaining power and wealth, overshadowed by the fact that only the wealthy and powerful create the rules of our capitalist society, causes strife within the ranks of people who cannot achieve normal successes. " Those people in lower social class turn into crime to let go of the frustration caused by the stratification.
Methods of Prevention and Intervention
The criminal justice system has adapted to some methods to prevent the likelihood of joining the street gangs. At home, parents are being taught how to identify the signs of associating with gangs. The parents are also being educated on how to work closely with their young ones to diminish the power of the gangs. Parents are also required to teach their children on the disadvantages of joining the street gangs (Friedrichs, n.d). Parental training equips the parents with relevant ability and knowledge to help their kids avoid any trouble. In the future, criminal justice needs to work closely with educators to develop crucial materials and tools meant to educate parents.
The criminal justice system also uses school programs to identify gang members, resolve possible conflicts among gang associates and provide gang information to parents. Many schools today enact stringent dress code rules to prevent dressing in gang colors. Learning institutions have maximized security to prevent the gangs from recruiting students and also use detectors in screening weapons in school outdoor activities. Schools have also formed partnerships with law enforcement to control and reduce crime at school level (Friedrichs, n.d). Law enforcement involves itself in student development other than just responding to trouble through a Jeopardy program. The Jeopardy program identifies the students that need help, notifies their parents, refers the families to counseling agencies, provides alternative programs to the young ones and finally monitors the progress of the children.
The criminal justice system also makes use of the community in combating street gangs. The criminal justice planning department provides funds across the states for the gang and drug prevention at a communal level (Muhlhausen, & Little, 2007). The funding is mainly meant for organizing and coordinating the task forces. Community involvement suppresses the gangs hence reducing their recruitment powers. The community-based initiatives work to resolve gang conflicts and prevent children from joining the gangs.
The criminal justice makes use of law enforcement policies to suppress gangs. According to xxx (Cole, et al, 2018), the suppression strategies include arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating the street gangs. Those caught in conducting criminal activities need to prosecuted and imprisoned so that effective correctional measures can be taken. Street gang intervention is also an important aspect in combating criminal activities (Jones, et.al 2007). Good intervention strategies can make the gang members quit their involvement with gangs. Those kids who look up to these people are can see the negativity of gang groups and hence will follow suit and avoid joining the gangs.
The criminal justice system faces a hard time in combating the street gang menace entirely. However, I believe that both the national and state governments have a critical role to play to boost the efforts of the criminal justice system. Both governments should develop laws that suppress and prevent crimes that relate to street gangs. If proper measures are not taken to deal with street gangs, the problem can only get bigger and hence proper intervention strategies should be developed as the best means to fight this growing problem.
Muhlhausen, D. B., & Little, E. (2007). Gang crime: Effective and constitutional policies to stop violent gangs. Legal Memorandum, 20, 1-12.
Vigil, J. D. (2019). Street Gangs: A Multiple Marginality Perspective. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2018). The American system of criminal justice. Cengage Learning.
Friedrichs, M. (n.d.). Gangs: Problems and Answers. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/gangsproblems.htm
Hall, E. (2011). Social Criminological Theories: A Comparison of Theories, and an Exploration into the Causes of Gang Violence. Retrieved from https://criminologyjust.blogspot.com/2012/11/social-criminological-theories.html#.XRW3q-sza03
Jones, D., Roper, V., Stys, Y., & Wilson, C. (2007, July 11...
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