Essay on Gangs In America

Submitted By Justin-Botelho
Words: 1780
Pages: 8

Gangs in America
An Annotated Bibliography
Justin Botelho
December 2, 2014
Introduction to Criminal Justice

Gang as defined by Merriam-Webster is a group of criminals. In modern day America, gangs have transcended this rudimentary definition of them and have evolved into vast criminal enterprises. Gang emergence throughout American history has largely been fueled by both immigration and poverty, a way for culture groups in specific regions to unite against the oppressive majority that inhibited their prosperity. This sense of brotherhood and belonging caused gang affiliations in America to explode to unprecedented levels. Gang principles and values are on display in many aspects of modern day American culture. Gangs possess a certain aura around them in America and have been deemed “hip” or “cool” due to mainstream forms of media. Whether it’s Lil Wayne reciting the Blood’s rally cry “suwoop” on a hit song, Snoop Dogg’s adamant proclamation of his Crips affiliation, or Sons of Anarchy’s glorification of the Biker ethos, Television executives, rappers, and Hip-Hop music in general have made enormous sums of money glorifying the gang way of life by painting it as a theology on par with any religion. Gangs in America have existed since the end of the Revolutionary War, but their scope of influence has never been higher than it is today. In all four regions of America (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) multitudes of gangs practice a “by any means necessary” approach to protecting their assets and financial endeavors. (Howell & Moore, 2010)(Endeavors which include but are not limited to prostitution, drug dealing, heists, extortion, etc.) Brutality and violence is the main tool utilized by gangs to assert their dominance over a territory, and they will not think twice about ending a life if ending said life is deemed beneficial to the gang’s continued success. The sheer amount of money these gangs generate and their dominance over the lower income sections of American cities and towns raises an important question. “Are Gangs in America here to stay for the foreseeable future?”

Sanchez-Jankowski, M. (2003). Gangs and Social Change. Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 7(2): 191-216; 032413.
This article tries to approach the concept of a gang as a malleable organism that adjusts to the environment around it. Sanchez-Jankowski shows how researchers fail to sociologically distinguish gangs from other types of collective behavior. Socioeconomic factors that plague the areas these gangs thrive in are rife throughout the piece, highlighting the attractiveness of gangs to individuals who feel as they have no future whilst surrounded by such bleakness. A means of ending the monotony and becoming someone in place of nobodies is a huge draw for misled, impoverished youths. Breaking the 150 year history of social and organizational development of gangs into 5 parts. (Gangs in times of immigration, times of blue-collar expansion, times of drug regulation, times of mass incarceration, times of and monopoly behavior) strengthens the view that regardless of what’s going on around the gang, it can manipulate itself to survive and continue its existence.
This article did a masterful job of branching out from the generic broad definition of gangs and looking at the concept of a gang from an alternative perspective. The ability of the article to show how gangs can alter themselves to adjust to the social structure in the areas they inhabit displays the longevity and potential lifespan of gangs in America.

The National Gang Intelligence Center. (2009). National Gang Threat Assessment. Washington D.C. This report does an exceptional job detailing how serious of a threat gangs pose to communities throughout the United States. Estimating that more than 1 million active gang members belonging to more than 20,000 gangs are active in all 50 U.S. states details the seriousness of the threat. Additional statistics show…