Analyses of Gang Laws Impact Gangs' Membership in Los Angeles
Just like any other major city, Los Angeles has had a very high level of gang related activities over the years. Unfortunately, the numbers of gang related activities suggest that Los Angeles’s gang problem is significantly higher than most cities in the United States. Notably, researchers argue that it is due to the high numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants who seek shelters in the cities. In addition, activist activities by black idealist also acted a foundation to some of the major gangs that contribute to the numbers in Los Angeles. The streets of downtown Los Angeles are home to two dominant rival gangs who established their roots in the eighties. They are the Crips and the Bloods (The Los Angeles Police Department 2014). Other smaller gangs may have developed, but they also have an affiliation to these two. Asian gangs, however, have been rumored to be established in other parts of downtown Los Angeles might not have an affiliation to these dominate groups. Notably, the Asian gangs are rumored to work for the Asian mafia, which mostly is involved with collecting money from shop owners in parts of Los Angeles, in exchange for their protection.
National gang center (2014)
Remarkably, gangs have shown consistency in activities despite their affiliation over the years. Initially, The Los Angeles Police Department (2014) argues that it was very easy to identify gang members through the colors that they wore. The Crips chose to wear blue clothes or pieces of cloths while the Bloods wore red. Today, however, this is not the same. Gang members only spot these colors today only in you tube videos when there is an underground meeting involving several gangs with the same affiliations in the region. Today, they opt to wear sports gear, and similar shoes that make it predictable for members to be recognized.
The gangs have also embraced graffiti as a method of marking their turfs as well intimidating other gangs. Gang members who live in a certain area draw graffiti to declare allegiance to their gangs or even challenge rival gangs (The Los Angeles Police Department 2014). Conspicuously, gang members use the graffiti to communicate messages in their gangs of other rival gangs. Consequently, locals and the police department have used graffiti to determine that whenever there is the presence of graffiti, it means there is a chance of imminent danger as it indicates the presence of gangs.
Police department has established that most homicides that take place are often a product of gang rivalry or other drug related incidences. Unfortunately, there are usual passersby who sometimes lose their lives because of stray bullets or other mistakes that occur whenever gangs clash. Most gangs are, however, notorious for selling drugs, hijackings, rapes, robbery among other violent crimes. They diminish the quality of life of the good people of Los Angeles through fear and extortion and destroying property (The Los Angeles Police Department 2014).
Despite common misconception that gangs are mainly comprised of males, gangs comprised of both males and females. The Los Angeles Police Department (2014) contends that they also comprise of different races and members starting in these groups are usually as young as elementary school going children. Gang members mainly involve themselves with unlawful activities as they usually have a culture of proving themselves to their gangs using violence and theft.
People have always wondered why so many young people would choose to disregard education and join the gangs in the streets. Researchers have established a number of varied reasons that motivate gang activity throughout the country. First, these people want to seek recognition or identity, which the gang offers to anyone willing to risk their lives and engage in unlawful activities (The Los Angeles Police Department 2014). Secondly, members are usually seeking protection from other gang members if they live in an area prevalent of gang activities. Others seek a place to call family and have family sort of connections since gangs provide a sort of unity (O’Deane and Morreale 2012). Others join against their will at the coercion of gang members. This usually happens if these individuals contribute the affairs of the gangs and their involvement may benefit these organizations in any way (Wolf 2011). Remarkably, others will join the gang as an effort to benefit themselves financially using the sale of narcotics and other contraband.
The city of Los Angeles has employed stringent laws and legislation to give the police department wide jurisdiction to combat with these activities. The California street terrorism enforcement and prevention (STEP) act has chosen to eliminate gang related activity by concentrating in their patterns (Gang Legislation 2014). Various legislation has been put in place to combat with the most common activities that gangs often engage in. this includes gang participation, homicide, shooting from a motor vehicle, robbery, and drivers responsibility.
Gang Legislation (2014) highlights that the penal code §186.22 provide that participation in criminal street gang activities with the knowledge that its members were involved in criminal activities is punishable by a misdemeanor of a felony. In addition, any criminal activity that is committed to promote the criminal activities of the gang also attracts an additional period in the prison. In order to combat graffiti, the code also states that destruction of property through conducting any activity that may bring nuisance to a building or place used by gang’s calls for full compensation of the damage incurred. In addition, the Penal Code, §186.22a (e) states that any firearm, ammunition, or any deadly weapon owned by a member of a criminal gang and could be used to perform crimes should be confiscated by the police (Gang Legislation 2014).
The California courts consider it a misdemeanor for any person proven to have sold, given, or in any way provided a minor acquiring an aerosol container (Gang Legislation 2014). In addition, it is also considered a misdemeanor if any person under the age of eighteen is caught purchasing an aerosol container that can be used to deface property.
After the implementation of this legislation, some of the neighborhoods started having reduced crime rates (Wolf 2011). This might have also been attributed to the fact that the police had caught so many members of gangs in the neighborhood and all of their being in jail meant reduced gang activity. Property holders and other members of the Baldwin village took the initiative to clean up their neighborhoods and discourage gang activity. The volunteers cleaned up the village, painted over graffiti, and installed cameras in order to discourage crime activity in the region. The neighborhood residents have improved the quality of their lives and much fewer gangs arrests are made in the neighborhood, as a result (Wolf 2011).
National gang center (2014).
O’Deane and Morreale (2012) discuss how gang injunction is a strategy that has been used to prevent gang activity from operating in Los Angeles. This strategy has been very successful although it has raised eyebrows in its effectiveness. Gang injunction is a court order directing that certain groups should refrain from engaging in certain activities at certain areas. Gang members could not risk this as their arrest could also attract civil charges above their criminal ones (O’Deane and Morreale 2012). However, people argue that these injunctions have only prompted the gang members to move from one region to another.
Remarkably, Wolf (2011) states that statistics shows that crime related arrests had gone down by a significant percentage in 2006 to 2007 after local police officers joined strategies with residents that occupied areas crippled with gang activities (National gang center 2014). Their joined efforts enabled a very big crackdown that lead to a significant number of the arrest of gang members. However, after 2009, a large number were continuously released. The released individuals apparently went back to join gangs, and the number of arrests related to gang activities started rising again.
The most notable group of individuals that stand to benefit from reduced or controlled gang activities are obvious families related to the gang members as well as the teenagers that are at risk of being influenced to join the gangs. However, other stakeholders influence greatly the legislation or their organization affected by increased gang members or activities. Office of youth prevention (2014) state that the federal and local law enforcement and prosecution services are an influential group in the arrest and sentencing of gang members and therefore an important stakeholder. The federal and local law enforcement agencies repeatedly put their lives at risk whenever they go to investigate gang membership or activities in gang-infested areas. With increased gang activities and numbers, these law enforcers take a greater risk as most of these gang members possess weapons and often resist arrest. The prosecution services are also overworked, as they need to investigate and present their findings to the judge. With reduces gang activities, these members of the law enforcement agencies take lesser risks and have a manageable workload.
The second stakeholder is the department of correction. Office of youth prevention (2014) positions that statistics show that prisons in Los Angeles operate at a maximum number due to the large number of arrests made with the increased number of gang activities. The juvenile department also stands to benefit with reduced numbers of gang related arrests because they will receive a manageable number of inmates with decreasing gang related arrests and activities.
The public and private crime prevention organizations and security firms were notable stakeholders in this matter (Office of youth prevention 2014). Just like the law enforcement agencies, the crime prevention organizations and security firms risk their lives lesser with decreased number of gang related arrests. Security organizations, which offer private security services constantly, put their employees at an endangered environment when client who lives in the gang infested neighborhoods request for their services.
Office of youth prevention (2014) argues that businesses are also significant beneficiaries of controlled gang related activities as fewer gang members mean that their chances of being robbed and therefore making losses are significantly reduced. Housing organizations also do not have to deal with graffiti and destruction of property, which increases, with the increased number of gang members (Office of youth prevention 2014). Finally, the education and training facilities receive a larger group of applicants if the more teenagers engage in educational advancement instead of joining a gang that will only lead to increase in workload for the federal and local law enforcement and prosecution services (Office of youth prevention 2014).
Office of youth prevention. (2014). Gang violence task force: the City of Portland Oregon.
Wolf, A. M. (2011). Evaluating comprehensive strategies to reduce gang related violence: A Municipal Action Guide. Retrieved from: http://www.ccgpn.org/Publications/MAC%20Evaluation.pdf
O’Deane, M. D., & Morreale, S. A. (2012). Gang injunctions: A Tool to Control Gang Activity, 12(1), 86-97.
Gang Legislation. (2014). California. Retrieved from: http://www.streetgangs.com/laws/cal.html
National gang center. (2014). National youth gang survey analysis: Measuring the Extend of Gang Problems. https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis/Measuring-the-Extent-of-Gang-Problems
The Los Angeles Police Department. (2014). Gangs. Retrieved from: http://www.lapdonline.org/get_informed/content_basic_view/1396