Gangs and Community Corrections
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
The most effective ways of addressing gang-related problems include the involvement of several agencies. However, there are inherent barriers that need to be overcome in order for the collaborative approaches to have a positive effect. These barriers are defining gang problems and discerning the difference between ends and means. The diversity of gangs and their activities makes it difficult for society to define gang problems (Spergel, 1991). This inability arises from the lack of a consensus on what the root problems are. They are mostly focused on specific gang activities, i.e., drug dealing, prostitution, forcing “protection” on businesses, and other illegal activities. Instead the core issue is gang development and the difficulty in disbanding these gangs. Community corrections are programs that are conducted outside of jails and prisons. People involved in gangs are closely monitored to ensure that they follow the program. These programs get funding from the state and together with county probation agencies, the two liaise to run and organize the programs. The main issue of the program is that gang members on parole do not follow the program rules and return to their gangs, committing the same offenses as before. The issue is important because community correction agencies tend to be ineffective due to their general approach. Probation and parole are a good opportunities for juveniles to have a second chance for the bad decisions that were made but gang members differ due to their fierce sense of family and loyalty to their group instead of as individuals. The growing complexity of interrelated problems between gangs and violence requires people to understand gangs and the problems they create in order to not only prevent them, but to manage gang members on parole. Review of current literature
In the past, adult gangs, drug trafficking and urban violence were viewed as separate problems but today; these problems are interconnected and pose a greater threat to society. These problems increase the drug-related homicides among the gang members and affect innocent civilians because they are intended targets. The interrelated problems of violence, gangs, and drugs have been addressed using various research studies. Most research studies suggest that the relationship between gangs and crimes vary depending on the type of gang. These findings are inconclusive however because researchers are unable to agree on establishing a definite link between gangs and violence. Another reason for the levels of uncertainty among researchers is that there are no appropriate distinctions among different types of gangs in the society. Some gang members are involved in drugs and violence while others are not. According to Klein and Maxson (1989), the assumption of dealing with a common phenomenon in different cities is not only inappropriate but also grossly inaccurate. A study conducted via the National Criminal Justice Reference Service examined “gang members’ recidivism rates in comparison to the general parole population and controls for variables that may potentially contribute to any such differences. The data were derived from closed case files at California parole offices. The primary hypothesis was that gang members would be more likely to fail on parole than the average non-gang-member parolee. It was anticipated that two factors would be involved in the gang member-parole failure relationship: age and type of commitment offense. Results showed that parolees that were affiliated with gangs were statistically more likely to fail on parole. While age at release was a significant predictor of parole outcome, controlling for that variable did not eliminate the ability of gang affiliation to predict recidivism. Gang members continued to have higher rates of parole failure regardless of their age group. Gang...
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