Gangs Essay, Research Paper
I. -A Los Angeles family takes a wrong turn into gang territory and is fired
upon. A 3-year-old is killed and her 2-year-old brother wounded.
-A Chinese immigrant in Brooklyn is kidnapped by a Chinatown gang which
demands ransom payments from her family. She is murdered when the family fails to pay.
-Two FBI agents and a police sergeant are murdered inside the Washington,
D.C. police headquarters by a gang member.
-A Pittsburgh police sergeant walking home with his daughter is killed with
his own gun after he stops and confronts a gang spraying graffiti on a street.
II. Resolved : that the Federal Government should pass laws to prevent the
development gang related youth violence.
1. Development: as defined in Websters Dictionary is ?to make more
elaborate; to enlarge?
2. Gang: as defined in Websters is ?A group of persons who are organized
and work together or socialize regularly; a group of adolescent hoodlums or
criminals; gang up on; to attack as a group.?
3. Violence: as defined in Websters is ?Physical force or activity used
to cause harm, damage or abuse?
4. Youth: as defined in Websters is ?The appearance or state of
appearing young; the time of life when one is not considered a adult; a young person?
III. Our current juvenile justice system is no longer adequate for
today’s hardened young gang members. Demographics indicated this problem is not
going away. In fact, only will get worse. This is a serious problem that can
not be left unchecked. If this is not addressed it will only lead to the decay
of our society. We must take action to combat gangs in a new way. Vice
President Albert Gore recently told the White House press corps, “Gangs have
been a major cause of the growth in violent crime in the past decade.” He cited
a Treasury Department report that found the presence of rival gangs, the Bloods
and the Crips, in 35 states and 58 cities across the country. At the same press
conference, Attorney General Janet Reno cited the impact of disabling one gang
in New Haven, Connecticut. Eighteen members of the “Jungleboy” street gang were
put in jail, and, according to Reno, New Haven’s murder rate fell by one-third
I. Outline of Need Arguments
A. Problem: Many highly rated experts warn of the impending youth crime crisis.
Youth violent crime has been rising dramatically for more than a decade. An
upward surge in youthful perpetrators of violence is complemented by an
unprecedented growth in youth living with little or no adult supervision.
Professor Dean Rojek, a sociologist at the University of Georgia, says, “For
decades violent crime was driven mostly by adults, with kids involved mostly in
property crime…. What’s been changing is that you have juveniles becoming much
more involved in violent offenses, with the use of weapons. If we add to this
more babies, you could have a multiplier effect… a mini explosion [in violent
crime by youth].” Gang’s only heighten this problem.
California authorities describe the youth gang as a “violent and
insidious new form of organized crime. Heavily armed with sophisticated weapons,
(gangs) are involved in drug trafficking, witness intimidation, extortion, and
bloody territorial wars. In some cases they are traveling out of state to spread
their violence and crime.”
According to the FBI, “The fastest growing murder circumstance is
juvenile gang killings.” Almost one-third of Los Angeles’ homicides are gang
related. Nationwide, the rate of violent offenses by gang members is three times
as high as for non-gang delinquents.
“Unless we act now,” says Attorney General Janet Reno, “to stop young
people from choosing a life of violence and crime, the beginning of the 21st
century could bring levels of violent crime to our communities that far exceed
what we have experienced.” Reggie Walton, a Washington, D.C. Superior Court
judge who handles juvenile cases, blames it on the disappearance of fathers.
Walton says fathers leave children to be raised by young mothers who themselves
are often struggling with mental or emotional problems, limited education,
poverty and addiction. Walton labels these children “walking time bombs.”
This time bomb has been in the making for some time. Today, and
historically, young males commit far more crimes than other age groups.
Teenagers commit the largest portion of all crime in America. More than one-
third of all murders are committed by offenders under the age of twenty one.
More murders and robberies are committed by eight-teen year old males than any
other group. (Paul McNulty, ?Natural Born Killers? Preventing the Coming of
Explosion of Teenage Crime?, 1995)
No matter the type of gang, most gang members are male. A Chicago study
of four police districts found that only 2 to 5 percent of gang arrested were
female. These females are typically auxiliary gang members.
Gang members range in age from 8 to 22 years old, but there are
exceptions where tenure is often well beyond 22 to perhaps more than 40 years
old. A counselor in a juvenile detention facility in California said: “(If) you
find a gang member who comes from a complete nuclear family, a kid who has never
been exposed to any kind of abuse, I’d like to meet him…. a real ‘gangbanger’
who comes from a happy, balanced home, who’s got a good opinion of himself. I
don’t think that kid exists.”
Sydney Harris, a nationally syndicated columnist, said, “Gang members
tend to be chronic losers, who can accomplish nothing individually, or who live
in so depressed an environment that only by banding together can they exercise
any influence over their lives. In both cases, they are as much to be pitied as
B. Significance: Young males belonging to a gang have been proved to be much
more violent than non-gang members:
Orange County, California probation statistics indicate that gang-
related youth had significantly higher law-violation rates (55.1
percent) than non-gang affiliated youth (26.4 percent). A study of
20 years of data collected by Philadelphia’s police gang unit shows that “gangs
engage in more violent behavior than do delinquent non-gang groups.”
A study in Wisconsin found that most violent crimes by youths were
committed by groups of three or more. This “pack” behavior, not
surprisingly, seems to be at the core of much of the rise in youth crime.
A study of New York City teenage gunshot victims found that 40 percent
were shot during school hours. Another study found that of
children and teenagers wounded in drive-by shootings in Los Angeles, 71
percent were “documented members of street gangs.”
Not only do gang members tend to be more violent than non-gang members,
but gang membership appears to prolong one’s criminal career. One study found
that a “large portion of persistent and dangerous juvenile gang offenders become
even more serious adult offenders.” Another study in California found that
previously-incarcerated gang members continued their lives of crime after being
Gangs are spreading across the country and are not just limited to major
cities. Bernard Friedlander, a University of Hartford psychology professor and a
violence expert, says, “This is an American problem, not an inner-city
problem…. It’s spreading slowly…. On one level it’s simple fad imitation…
but on another level the isolation of youth is just as profound in some of the
more stable areas as in the inner city.”
The spread of gangs can be attributed to at least three factors. First,
parents, desiring to protect their gang-culture-saturated children from the
hometown gang’s influence, send them to relatives across the country. Sometimes
this strategy works. But many times this back fires and helps transplant the
gang culture into a new community.
The drug trade has created entrepreneurial gangs which fan out across
the country to expand their markets. Franchises of the Bloods and the Crips are
now in most metropolitan centers. With their expansion, they have introduced
collateral, gang-like violence, reminiscent of the Mob earlier in the century.
To an extent the entertainment industry contributes to the spread of
gangs. The gang culture, value system and mentality are sprinkled across the
country through movies and “gangsta” rap music. These cultural amplifiers
educate young audiences to gang values and attitudes. They denigrate women,
promote exaggerated manhood or “machismo,” and glorify violence. They also pass
on gang language, symbols, activities, and traditions.
According to Justice Department estimates, the United States has some
1,436 gangs and 120,636 gang members. They exist in all size communities and in
rural areas. The Justice Department figures are disputed by the National School
Safety Center, which in 1993 estimated that the Los Angeles area alone has at
least 959 gangs with approximately 125,000 gang members.
There are many types of gangs. Some are black, white, Asian, Hispanic or
other ethnic-centered gangs. Others are structured around territory, commercial
activities, corporate businesses, political agendas, religion, music and special
types of crime.
Race/ethnic-based gangs: Larry Rawles, deputy director of Philadelphia’s
Crisis Intervention Network, says, “When any ethnic group was at the
bottom, they formed gangs — the Jews, the Irish, the Italians.”
Gangs offered status, a sense of self-worth, and protection. Today, most
gangs are racially segregated (54.6 percent are African American and
32.6 percent are Hispanic). Blacks and Hispanics constitute the largest
numbers of youths arrested for gang offenses today.
The all-black rival gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, have an
estimated 70,000 members in Los Angeles County alone. They have
franchises in most states and metropolitan communities where they tend
to dominate the crack cocaine trade.
Darlyne Pettinicchio, a probation officer in Orange County,
California, says, “(White gangs are) punk rockers and heavy
metalers (who) come from all socio-economic classes. They’re of
average intelligence and they’re capable youngsters. They have very little
parental authority. They’re usually angry. Their dance is violent.
Their music is violent. Their behavior is violent. They’re into
Economic-based gangs: Some gangs are organized around a commercial
activity. Members may be all from a single race or the same
neighborhood or they may be very diverse. The glue that holds them
together is making money. They often see themselves as Robin Hoods or
Bonnie-and-Clyde types who practice their own version of free enterprise. A
close cousin is the corporate gang, which selects a type of industry or
business and dominates the field through intimidation and violence.
Territorial gangs: can be from any race or ethnic background. They lay
claim to a particular territory. They typically “tag” their territory
with gang graffiti and are willing to defend their turf to the death.
Professor Cornel West, a Princeton University social scholar, says in
his book Race Matters “The frightening result is a numbing detachment from
others and a self-destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning,
hope, and love breeds a cold-hearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both
the individual and others.”
The youth gang satisfies a void. It provides the child a sense of
identity, belonging, power, and protection. The gang satisfies the child’s
desire to feel secure. Living in a high-risk environment without paternal
protection, the young gangster satisfies his insecurities by aligning himself
with a gang, his surrogate family. The gang provides a protective barrier
against the outside forces. One gang member says, “Being in a gang means if I
didn’t have no family, I think that’s where I’ll be. If I didn’t have no job
that’s where I’d be. To me it’s community help without all the community.
They’ll understand better than my mother and father.”
This new “family” has a distinct set of values that affect every aspect
of his life. According to the Los Angeles District Attorney, “It confronts and
confounds adult authority on every level — sex, work, power, love, education,
language, dress, music, drugs, alcohol, violence. As icons of popular culture,
gangs not only represent a powerful group identity utterly inaccessible to
adults, they are surrounded with an appealing aura of outlaw danger.”
“Tagging” their territory with gang graffiti is common. It proclaims the
presence of the gang and offers a challenge to rivals. It may claim credit for a
crime. The denser the graffiti, the closer one is to the gang’s core territory.
The Crips often mark “B/K” for “Bloods killers.”
The gang problem is obviously a enormous one for Americas youth and must be
dealt with swiftly and effectively. My partner Tom will detail our plan later on
in this debate.
II. Outline of Plan
This program will detail ways of preventing some gang violence. No plan
or program could ever get rid of the gang problem as a whole. Our plan is
primarily focused on prevention but also includes some stricter laws as a
deterrent to others. Our aim is to significantly decrease the gang problem in
1.Higher mandatory school enrollment age:
Higher the age a child can legally withdraw from school to the age of 18.
This would make sure all children had a better education. It would also keep
many involved in school and off the streets, with out as much time to commit to
criminal behavior. Preventing ?drop out’s? from causing trouble often related
to gangs. A exception to this law would be made for any High School or GED
Cost: NONE; funding for these students is already in place
Enforcement: $50 fine for any illegal absence
2.More ?Real World? training in High Schools:
Make vocational and other job specific classes more available. Not all
teens can or want to, go to Higher Education. If they had a career path right
out of High School many would not join gangs for economic reasons. Computer and
other high tech training will be available and well as the traditional
Automotive, Construction, ect.
Cost: Federal Government will not build one Stealth B-1 bomber
plane ($1.1 billion). Funds will be diverted to local school districts with
the most need for equipment.
Enforcement:All federal funding of schools will be revoked from any
non compling local jurisdictions
3. National Curfue Law:
A 12:00 midnight to 5:00AM national curfew for all persons under the age
of 18. Exceptions would be made if the child was with a legal gardein or some
one over the age of 25. This has been very successful in reducing crime some
Enforcement:Any law enforcement officer can issue a (maximum $75
minimum $20) citation during regular patrol.
4. Expand the Drug Free School Zone Program:
Not only would drug penalties be doubled within a 1000 yard radius of
any school but also any crime that could be linked to gang activity the penalty
would also be doubled. From a illegally parked car to murder, all punishments
doubled for known gang members.
Cost: Funded via. sin taxes on items such as alcohol and
tobacco. Money would pay for extra patrols of school areas and added jail
time for those convicted.
Enforcement:Double punishment for any illegal activities that could
be related to gang activities. Quadruple penalties for any gang members
committing a drug related crime in those areas.
5. ?Drive by’s? act of terrorism:
By labeling thing such as ?drive by? shootings, or any violence directed
at the public in general, an act of terrorism they would be a federal offense
punishable by death. Committing a federal offense normally carries a much
higher sentence than that of local jurisdictions, and is punishable by death no
matter what state the crime was done in.
Enforcement:Punishable by Death (Capital Offense); Mandatory life in
prison for any adult involved. Juvenile Mandatory 50 years.
6. Expand programs such as Head Start:
Expand pre-kindergarden programs such as Head Start to be avalible for
all, just like public school. Will give millions of children, 2 and up, a
preschool program who parents previously could not afford. Also lets parents go
to work and get off welfare programs.
Cost: The cost of the school would be offset by the amount of
single parents being able to go back to work and therefor not relying of
welfare and food stamps.
Individual programs such as Head Start, Curfew, Real World Training, and
Drug Free School zones, have all ready proved there worthiness. Either by
already partially implementation around the country or full implementation in
select cities and proven to work.
New ideas such as Drive By’s a terrorist act, and increasing the legal
age to leave school are both very workable ideas but have not to my knowledge
been tested in any fashion. These two programs need to be tested for say 1 year
before being implementing for the entire county.
While none of these six plans would do much to curb violent gangs alone,
all of them at the same time should make a noticed difference. Also side
benefits of my plan are:
Free preschool for all children older than 2 years of age
Allows single parents to work
Decreases gang and drug activity outside our schools
Gets tough with the most violent gang members
Encourages kids to stay in school
Better job training is offered for High Schoolers
“We’ve got so many kids out there who’ve lost hope, who believe in only
living for today,” says John Turner, chief of police for the city of Mountlake
Terrace, Washington. “They join a gang and get involved in criminal activity
because there aren’t any people taking them by the hand in simple terms and
pointing them in the right direction, giving them self-esteem and positive
Perhaps gangs exist because modern society has failed to harness the
male hunter/predator instinct and converted those energies to familial
provider/protector efforts. Delinquent young people lacking values, conscience
or a sense of remorse can easily find themselves drawn to the gang lifestyle.
Noted author James Q. Wilson writes in The Moral Sense that modern
society with its “rapid technological change, intense division of labor, and
ambiguous allocation of social roles, frequently leaves some men out, with their
aggressive pre dispositions either uncontrolled or undirected. Gangs are one
result.” Wilson says the profits from illegal drug sales provide gang members
economic opportunities which combine with their uncontrolled aggression to
develop a “warrior culture that under invests in family life.”
Converting male energy to familial provider/protector efforts has always
been the task of the intact family. But the nuclear family is declining,
especially in predominantly black inner cities where gangs dominate life and
rain violent crime. Many of these children join gangs to find purpose, security,
and self-esteem. The gang culture gives them a sense of belonging and remakes
their value system. Partying, fighting, and vicious gang loyalty become their
primary values, thus pushing aside virtues that favor family life. This is a
vicious cycle and it must be broken.
Given that youth gangs account for a disproportionate share of youth
violence, their potential for contributing to a future crime wave is enormous. A
recent decline in violent crime appears to be more a result of fewer teenagers
than better law enforcement. When the current bumper crop of elementary-age
children become adolescents, the violent crime rate is likely to explode.
Gangs are the powder magazine, they must be dealt with before the bomb
Population of 14-18 year olds
Now 17,620,472 5 Years18,628,635 + 6 % 10 Years