Aging Out Or Evolving

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The proliferation of gangs in our society has led to an increase in destructive crimes throughout the United States. The number of criminal gang members is estimated to be between the 787,000 gang members reported by the National Youth Gang Center in 2007 and the 1 million reported by the National Gang Intelligence Center in 2009. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported almost half of the gang members encountered by police were adults, yet little of the literature distinguishes between these demographic differences. What are the differences between the groups? What roles are filled exclusively by adult gang members?

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  • Larger cities and suburban counties, which typically have long-standing gang problems, are more likely to report adult-aged gang members than juvenile-aged gang members.Conversely, smaller cities and rural counties, whose gang problems are relatively more recent, are more likely to report juvenile-aged gang members.
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  • Aging Out Or Evolving

    1. 1. AGING OUT OR EVOLVING: SHOULD GANG RESEARCHERS COUNT JUVENILE AND ADULT GANG MEMBERS TOGETHER?<br />Moderator: Carter F. Smith, Middle Tennessee State UniversityDiscussants: Gregg W. Etter, University of Central Missouri; D. Lee Gilbertson, Saint Cloud State University; Jeff Rush, Austin Peay State University<br />; Al Valdez, University of California - Irvine<br />
    2. 2. Abstract<br />The proliferation of gangs in our society has led to an increase in destructive crimes throughout the United States. <br />The number of criminal gang members is estimated to be between the 787,000 gang members reported by the National Youth Gang Center in 2007 and the 1 million reported by the National Gang Intelligence Center in 2009. <br />The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported almost half of the gang members encountered by police were adults, yet little of the literature distinguishes between these demographic differences. <br />What are the differences between the groups? <br />What roles are filled exclusively by adult gang members?<br />
    3. 3. Distinguishing Juvenile and Adult Street Gang Members<br />Street gangs are often considered youth-oriented, seen as distinctly different from adult criminal organizations (Klein, 2005). <br />No consensus of either appropriate age range or proportion of individuals below a certain age to distinguish between youth and adult gangs (Howell & Decker, 1999).<br />
    4. 4. Youth vs. Juvenile?<br />Youthoften represents an age range that traverses the legal ages indicated by the terms juvenile and adult. <br />In most states, the age for criminal responsibility is 18 (Juvenile Justice, 2009).<br />Juveniles under criminal law are persons not old enough to be responsible for criminal acts. <br />
    5. 5. Traditional Gang Ages<br />Traditional parameters for gang membership are 12-30, averaging about 20 (Klein, 1995). <br />Similar to those found in Thrasher’s (1927) historic study of Chicago gangs, majority of gang members were 12-25, with sharp drop in membership after 25. <br />
    6. 6. Traditional Ages in the 1920s<br />Thrasher found majority (37.51%) had members 11-17, followed by 25.15% 16-25 year olds. <br />Few of the gangs were exclusively adults (3.13%). <br />
    7. 7. Traditional Ages in 1980s-1990s<br />Though the range in age of gang members extended from 10-30, most in Huff’s (1993) study were 14-24. <br />Of the 37 gangs Jankowski (1991) studied in his research on urban gangs, four had no adults. <br />The remaining 33 gangs had members from 12-42 (Jankowski). None of the gangs were exclusively adults. <br />None had members exceeding 42 (Jankowski). <br />
    8. 8. Traditional Ages in the 1990s-2000s<br />For gangs whose members do not leave as adults, it is reasonable to expect the number of older gang members to grow as gang membership ages (Curry & Decker, 2003). <br />For gang members beyond 22, gang membership had detrimental effects on the transition to adulthood (Thornberry et al., 2003). <br />The older age of gang members is not usually due to a delay in joining the gang, but maintaining allegiance to the gang after adulthood (Klein, 1995). <br />
    9. 9. Traditional Ages in the 1990s-2000s<br />In a comparative study of police-identified active gang members in 1996 and 2006, all of the four national gangs and each of the independent local gangs studied showed increases in the number of older members. <br />This indicated that older members were providing an adult perspective to a traditionally youth-oriented problem (Etter & Swymeler, 2008).<br />
    10. 10. Table 1: Identified Gang Members By Age<br />
    11. 11. Traditional Ages in the 1990s-2000s<br />In a multi-site study covering 1998-1999, Katz and Webb (2006) examined gangs and gang problems in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona. <br />Ingleside was also studied but not for adults<br />Most (79% and up) of the gang members were young adults between 18 and 36. <br />
    12. 12. Table 2: Gang Member Demographics By Age<br />
    13. 13. Traditional Ages in the 2000s<br />National Youth Gang Center - progressive increase in adult gang members for almost every year since 1996. <br />In 1996, the percentage of gang members was reported to be 50% juvenile and 50% adults. <br />In 2006, it was 36.5% juvenile and 63.5% adult. <br />In the 2007 (and previous years) report, the survey results specifically excluded exclusively adult gangs (NYGC, 2009).<br />
    14. 14. National Youth Gang Survey Analysis<br />The most recent figures show approximately two-thirds adult-aged and one-third juvenile-aged gang members.<br />
    15. 15. National Youth Gang Survey Analysis<br />Larger cities and suburban counties are more likely to report adult-aged gang members.<br />Smaller cities and rural counties are more likely to report juvenile-aged gang members.<br />
    16. 16. Traditional Ages in the 2000s<br />In 2007, the New Jersey State Police Street Gang Bureau collected information about gang activity and analyzed gang trends. <br />Analysts found that most (60%) gang members in 2001 were adults. <br />In 2004, 53% of the reported gang members were adults. <br />
    17. 17. Traditional Ages in the 2000s<br />The Florida Department of Law Enforcement 2007 Statewide Gang Survey indicated 56.5% of the state gang population were adults. <br />38.4% were 15-17. <br />
    18. 18. Summary of Findings<br />
    19. 19. Table 3: Summary of Findings By Age<br />
    20. 20. What are the differences between the groups? <br />
    21. 21. What roles are filled exclusively by adult gang members?<br />
    22. 22. What about the way we view youth/adult gang members needs to be changed?<br />
    23. 23. What needs to be changed?<br />Law<br />Research<br />Membership criteria<br />Nothing <br />
    24. 24.
    25. 25. References<br />Curry, G. D., & Decker, S. H. (2003). Confronting gangs: Crime and community. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Publishing Company. <br />Etter, G. W. & Swymeler, W. G. (2008). Examining the demographics of street gangs in Wichita, Kansas. Journal of Gang Research, 16(1), 1-12. <br />Florida Department of Law Enforcement. (2007). 2007 Statewide gang survey results. Retrieved from http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JFAO-789KGG/$file/2007GangSurvey.pdf <br />Howell, J. & Decker, S. (1999). The youth gangs, drug, and violence connection. Washington DC: OJJDP.<br />Huff, C. R. (1993). Gangs in the United States. In A. P. Goldstein & C. R. Huff (Ed.). The gang intervention handbook. Champaign, IL: Research Press, p. 3-20. <br />Jankowski, M. S. (1991). Islands in the street: Gangs and American urban society. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.<br />Juvenile Justice. (2009). In Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law. Retrieved from http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Juvenile_justice<br />Katz C. M. & Webb, V. J. (2006). Policing gangs in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.<br />Klein, M. W. (1995). The American street gang: Its nature, prevalence, and control. New York: Oxford University Press.<br />Klein, M. W. (2005). The value of comparisons in street gang research. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21(2), 135-152. doi:10.1177/1043986204272911 <br />National Youth Gang Center (2009). National youth gang survey analysis. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis<br />New Jersey State Police (2007) Gangs in New Jersey: Municipal law enforcement response to the 2007 NJSP gang survey. New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety Division of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section. Retrieved from http://www.state.nj.us/njsp/info/pdf/njgangsurvey-2007.pdf<br />Thornberry, T. P., Krohn, M. D., Lizotte, A. J. Smith, C. A. & Tobin, K. (2003). Gangs and Delinquency in Developmental Perspective. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. <br />Thrasher, F. M. (1927). The gang: A study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press (reprinted 2000).<br />
    26. 26. http://gangfighters.blogspot.com/<br />

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