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NCJ Number: 147226 Find in a Library
Journal: Santa Clara Law Review  Volume:30  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1990)  Pages:739- 790
Author(s): S L Burrell
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 52
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The author explores issues that may arise when gang evidence is presented in criminal and juvenile cases.
Abstract: The primary focus is on street gangs, rather than organized crime or prison gangs. Gangs are nothing new, but have gained high public visibility in recent times due to the convergence of drugs, automatic weapons, and automobiles. Southern California in particular is perceived to have a gang problem. In 1980, there were an estimated 30,000 gang members in 300 gangs in Los Angeles County alone; by 1989, these numbers reached 70,000 and 600. However, the homicide rate has not escalated at the same pace, despite public perceptions. Zealous law enforcement efforts, relying on sometimes inaccurate information, have raised questions about who should be considered a gang member and what should be considered a gang-related offense. Some related themes are that gang membership by itself is not a crime, and that looking like a gang member does not constitute a reason for detention. Gang evidence must pass the same admissibility criteria as other evidence. Official gang files often do not contain information specific enough to enable law enforcement officers to zero in on individual gang members whom they wish to apprehend. Yet, warlike strategies against gangs are not necessarily the solution. It is important to understand the forces that draw young people into gangs, in order to provide suitable alternatives. In any case, most gang members ultimately outgrow their criminality, especially if they are offered job skills, remedial education, and emotional support. Table, 204 footnotes
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Courts; Juvenile court procedures; Juveniles; Rules of evidence
Note: Reprinted by National Youth Gang Information Center, Document Number J0144
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