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NCJ Number: 206137 Find in a Library
Title: Assessment of Gang Presence and Related Activity at the County Level: Another Deniability Refutation
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:11  Issue:2  Dated:Winter 2004  Pages:1-22
Author(s): J. Mitchell Miller Ph.D.; Holly E. Ventura M.C.J; Jennifer D. Tatum B.S.; Christopher J. Schreck; Christopher L. Gibson
Date Published: 2004
Page Count: 22
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined whether gangs were present in South Carolina's Richland and Lexington Counties, as well as the nature of any gang activity, especially crime.
Abstract: Original data were collected from law enforcement and school sources. Information on gang presence and activities was solicited through two questionnaires. Separate questionnaires were developed for police and school respondents. Some close-ended questions requested information that would provide basic descriptions of gang presence and gang characteristics. The research team conducted 85 interviews, which typically lasted between 1 and 2 hours. Information obtained from the questionnaires strongly suggests a gang presence and activity in both Richland and Lexington Counties. Almost all law enforcement respondents (92 percent) acknowledged the presence of gangs in their jurisdiction or school. Respondents' judgments about the presence and activity of gangs in their jurisdictions were based on the following criteria: the commission of a crime in a group context, a name for the group by its members, and the identification of common colors and insignia. The gangs reported were predominately male, ranging in size from 6 to as many as 30 members. Gang membership by race was reported by respondents to be 79.5 percent Black, 10 percent Hispanic, and 10.5 percent White. The vast majority of gang members were between the ages of 15 and 17. Gangs in the study area used the symbolism and terminology of traditional gangs to solidify and legitimize their status, but they diverged from traditional gang patterns. The emergence of newer first-generation gangs, many of which were formed in the 1990's, pose new problems that may not be responsive to existing prevention and intervention programs. Established and highly organized gangs with national affiliations were reported to be far more likely to be involved in violent crime and drug trafficking. Hybrid gangs were primarily responsible for truancy, vandalism, and status offenses. School personnel and law enforcement officers both reported that much of the time spent by youth in a gang context involved just "hanging out." Still, simple association with a gang has been found to be linked to future criminality. Respondents' preferences for addressing the gang problem were as follows: greater parental involvement, the continuation of existing prevention programs, enacting laws and setting policies that increased penalties for gang involvement and related crimes, increased police resources allocated to gangs, and ensure the availability of recreational programs as an alternative to gang activities. 29 references and appended law enforcement and school interview schedules
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Gang violence; Gangs; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; South Carolina
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