157 Final Paper

Submitted By sams19944
Words: 2366
Pages: 10

Samuel Sandoval
March 5, 2015
Anthropology 157
The city of Los Angeles has been hailed as the gang capital of the country and in 2002 there were 731,500 gang members in the country with nearly 1 in 8 of this number coming from Los Angeles (Leap 2012, 11). This paper will discuss gangs in Los Angeles and present a prevention intervention program to help relieve the gang issue. The paper will discuss key points and factors as to why people, especially youth, join gangs. Additionally, the program that this paper advocates for will deal with the multi-faceted components of living in gang-impacted communities. This paper will discuss the need for inclusivity, specifically in terms of gender, in this gang prevention intervention program, while also stating that there is a need for focused methodologies. This paper will take into account past prevention intervention models and their strengths and weaknesses when discussing this new model. Furthermore, this paper will also explain desired outcomes from this program. Finally, this paper will discuss the effect gangs have on violent crime offenses and why preventing gang membership will prevent other forms of violent and nonviolent crime. Moreover, it will discuss why this program is mutually beneficial for gang members and members of the Los Angeles community as a whole. Before discussing the gang prevention program, it is important to preface the program with information on gangs in Los Angeles and the effect gangs have on women. I will discuss the former in greater detail now. It is widely known that the gang problem is complex. Children in gang-impacted areas often suffer from single-parent houses, poverty, and PTSD. Their reasons for joining gangs vary from coping with violence, to protection from other gangs, and even for finding a place to belong. Jorja Leap records Bo Taylor, a gang interventionist, as saying that children in gang-impacted neighborhoods only see jail or death as reasonable options; “they need family” (Leap 2012, 48). Additionally, projects that are affected by gang activity are usually considered ungoverned spaces, lacking any form of structure and open to antisocial behavior. In her book Jumped In, Leap also notes that “several cops have told [her] that the projects are a ‘self cleaning oven’”, when discussing how violence and drug solicitation is often committed openly in daylight (Leap 2012, 42). Finally, if people choose to leave the gang life, leaving is not a “hard and fast process” and gang members often liken renouncing gang membership to graduating from college (Leap 2012, 148). Such that, leaving gang life is difficult because it is part of your livelihood and identity. All in all, the reasons for joining gangs are often complex, law enforcement can and will be largely apathetic, and leaving is often difficult and unclear. It is important to know that causes for seeking gang membership and inhibitors of renouncing gang membership are complex and multi-faceted in order to create a prevention intervention program that addresses as many of these causes while also remaining practical and fundable. Furthermore, to simply view those who participate in gangs as only “male offenders” simply does not get the whole picture. In 1994, 12,000 people of the 150,000 recorded as gang members were women, roughly 13% (Sikes 1997, 4). While this is a small percentage, it is statistically significant and does not count gang associates who are also usually women. Police officers typically do not consider women gang members lethal or they simply do not believe they exist. Gini Sikes (Sikes 1997, 66) looks to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Gang Manual and notes a clear difference in who police officers view as a threat. Male gang associates typically do not know much of the criminal activity the gang is committing; nonetheless police officers consider them gang members. However, women who tell the police they are gang members, or even important in their local gangs,