The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

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9780195095340: The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
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When the Soviet Union collapsed, the White House announced with great fanfare that 100 FBI counterintelligence agents would be reassigned. Their new target: street gangs. Americans--filled with fear of crack-dealing gangs--cheered the decision, as did many big-city police departments. But this highly publicized move could be an experience in futility, suggests Malcolm Klein: for one thing, most street gangs have little to do with the drug trade.
The American Street Gang provides the finest portrait of this subject ever produced--a detailed accounting, through statistics, interviews, and personal experience, of what street gangs are, how they have changed, their involvement in drug sales, and why we have not been able to stop them. Klein has been studying street gangs for more than thirty years, and he brings a sophisticated understanding of the problem to bear in this often surprising book. In contrast to the image of rigid organization and military-style leadership we see in the press, he writes, street gangs are usually loose bodies of associates, with informal and multiple leadership. Street gangs, he makes clear, are quite distinct from drug gangs--though they may share individual members. In a drug-selling operation tight discipline is required--the members are more like employees--whereas street gangs are held together by affiliation and common rivalries, with far less discipline. With statistics and revealing anecdotes, Klein offers a strong critique of the approach of many law enforcement agencies, which have demonized street gangs while ignoring the fact that they are the worst possible bodies for running disciplined criminal operations--let alone colonizing other cities. On the other hand, he shows that street gangs do spur criminal activity, and he demonstrates the shocking rise in gang homicides and the proliferation of gangs across America. Ironically, he writes, the liberal approach to gangs advocated by many (assigning a social worker to a gang, organizing non-violent gang activities) can actually increase group cohesion, which leads to still more criminal activity. And programs to erode that cohesion, Klein tells us from personal experience, can work--but they require intensive, exhausting effort.
Street gangs are a real and growing problem in America--but the media and many law enforcement officials continue to dispense misleading ideas about what they are and what they do. In The American Street Gang, Malcolm Klein challenges these assumptions with startling new evidence that must be understood if we are to come to grips with this perceived crisis.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Malcolm W. Klein is Director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California. A leading international authority on street gangs, he is the author of a number of books on crime and criminal justice.

From Publishers Weekly:

Klein, director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California, views street gangs?as opposed to drug gangs, bikers or skinheads?as not monolithic and certainly not cohesive. Although such a gang may contain a core group, many more are made up of fringe members, he asserts, and there is overlap among gangs. A large number of gangs have a criminal orientation, and their crimes have traditionally been against property. Gangs' major activity, according to the author, has been inactivity. But in recent times, the number of street gangs has grown enormously, he shows, with gangs now found in at least 800 American cities, their growth abetted by media attention and inept law enforcement officials. But as the gang culture has spread across the nation, the seriousness of its crimes has increased, with hundreds of homicides yearly in L.A. alone. Though written by a scholar who has studied street gangs for 30 years, this telling commentary is generally free of academic jargon.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780195115734: The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)

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