Multicultural Issues in Criminal Justice

Some people are lucky to carry the fond childhood memories of watching the characters of Spanky and Alfalfa from the age old re-runs of The Little Rascals.  This television program was also called Our Gang in later airings. The group of pre-pubescent boys were led by the deep thinking Spanky, and they were easily amused by his high-strung counterpart named Alfalfa.  Within their gang of friends, there existed an inner group called the He-man women haters club.    Hollywood has allowed us to believe that the only crimes ever committed by this group of   youngsters were playing hooky from school, stealing a crme puff pastry from a local bakery, and an occasional breaking of a window with a ball.  Unfortunately, the gangs in existence in present day America are neither mild mannered nor are they as superficial.  Some gangs are here one day and gone tomorrow without ever having been noticed, but there has been a recent trend in the emergence of a more serious group of gangs throughout the United States.  These groups are predominantly of Asian and Latino decent, and they have proven to be dominating the criminal justice system as well as the communities in which they live.
A gang is a group of people who act in unison for criminal purposes or in order to instill fear and intimidation into prospective victims.  Asian and Latino gangs have migrated into the United States since the late 1960s for the purpose of newfound freedom and opportunity.  Amidst the relocation process, adapting to the new surroundings became frustrating and overwhelming to many of the newcomers.  Instead of opting to plunge forward with the determination to succeed, many chose to create their own path.  This carved path has led to self-destruction and community havoc.
Asian and Latino gangs share many commonalities.  Both groups thrive on financial gain through the trafficking and sale of illegal drugs.  These drugs are brought into the United States by means of their own members from Canada, Mexico, and from ships docking from overseas.  The illegal business of drug trafficking is quite organized.  Criminal enterprise is not just achieved by means of drugs, but it is also done through prostitution, auto theft, gambling, identity theft, and counterfeiting money.  Money laundering is a common item on the agenda for financial success and survival within the confines of gang life.  The only goal of each gang is to be the one who controls everything.  This includes territories such as neighborhoods and housing projects, but also includes the unwritten kickbacks from local smaller legitimate businesses that are forced to pay these gangs to avoid retaliation.
Gang members are easily characterized by the colors worn, tattoos, and signs made by hand gesturing.  Both Asian and Latino gangs possess little if any respect for authority in any form.  They often speak of living shortened lives or foresee prison as a future home.  Many own an entourage of firearms and weaponry for personal protection, but what is really being sheltered is the fragile ego of the individual.  Members from either gang are strongly at odds over territorial space.  These street battles have a tendency to erupt into bloody acts of violence with each gang defending future alleged positions.
Recruitment and acceptance into either a Latino or Asian gang is not a simple process.  Persons aspiring to join the ranks of one of these clusters often do so because of the following reasons  struggle to adapt make a living alternative form of family, protection, socio and economic stress, and intimidation.  Joining a gang is a matter of personal choice despite poorly stated allegations indicating otherwise.  Females are joining these criminal affiliations at an alarming rate.  Their male counterparts make no effort to provide them an easier naturalization process into the group.  Each female is either beaten by members of the gang in order to prove her ability to fight back, or she is gang raped by the male members of the gang in order for her to prove her loyalty and undying dedication to the group.  Males wishing to enlist in as a member of the band of hooligans must prove his loyalty and dedication by either being beaten in or by randomly selecting an innocent bystander and committing murder.  Once someone has joined the ranks of the crew, it is virtually impossible to ever resign.
As was stated briefly before, groups of gangs function almost like miniature enterprises.  These groups hold elections to appoint leaders in different jurisdictions of occupancy.  They hold regular meetings to keep all members abreast of the coming events or of events that have previously transpired.  Rules are written so that everyone is aware of what is expected and what will not be tolerated under any circumstances.  The latter is most redundant since these are groups of individuals who lack the simple integrity required to hold a job and be self sufficient.  
Communities and towns are apprehensive and anxious over the growing number of unfavorable people.  Families are fearful for their personal safety as for those in their immediate family units.  Crime rates begin to soar because gang members do not generally hold legitimate employment and must compensate for their financial needs and desires.  Asian gangs, however will most often target members of their own ethnicity for criminal behavior.  The reason behind this is simply because Asian people rarely bother to report any criminal behavior to the police.  Husbands and wives sit back in disgust as they watch their home and property value plummet due to the neighborhood value dropping like a bowling ball out of the sky.  Community members become upset when they find their personal property vandalized and their property stolen.  Neighborhood watches are organized in an attempt to combat against a neighborhood takeover at the hands of the Asian and Latino gangs.  Memberships to the community service organizations is small due to the level of intimidation imposed neighborhood residents by resident gang members.  An unspoken bias is prevalent in many communities affected by gang presence due to the visible demise of the district.  This bias has been known to erupt into all out racism and discrimination, which in turn creates a very hostile living environment and increases the level of threat to public safety.
Racial issues are not only existent in the communities in which townspeople and gang members live, but they are also alive and well within the gangs themselves.  Asian gangs are designated as an ethnic gang.  They carry deep resentment towards other races due in part to being largely outnumbered.  Their immigration into the United States held great promise for triumph and a new beginning.  Unfortunately, obstacles such as language barriers have made these chances for achievement less than attainable.  Gangs appear to thrive where there is suburban and decay in communications.
Inhabited localities continue to be impacted by groups of gangs of many kinds.  Latino gangs are more visible while the Asian gangs have preferred to remain more secluded.  These street gangs go by various names.  The chart below lists the names, approximate population number, and number of areas occupied in the United States (National Gang Intelligence Center in 2009).

At the present time, there are seven Latino Prison gangs in the United States.  These gangs perform business and keep constant connections with the satellite branches of other gangs from the inside.
The criminal justice system has taken quite a beating over trying to find a positive and productive way in combating the recent rise in criminal gang related activity.  New disciplinary training for staffs of correctional facilities, juvenile detention centers, and members of law enforcement have been formulated in order to be better prepared and protected.  Police officers are being educated in other languages so that communication can be more effective when responding to a call.  Special gang task forces are being headed, community policing, and community seminars and education are also being incorporated as a preventative measure as well as to better equip law enforcement in the job of protecting and serving the community. Criminal behavior among gang members has grown increasingly dangerous.  Drug trafficking is one of the major illegal behaviors cited, but homicides, murder, auto thefts, and extortion are just a few of the activities surrounding gang behavior.  Gang members do not seem threatened by deportation or going to jail.  Gang members view going to jail as being adorned with a badge of honor.  Many Latino gangs are covertly tied to the Mexican Mafia prison gang.  Suffice it to say, when a gang member is sent to jail it becomes somewhat of a family reunion.  The adult criminal justice system in Phoenix, Arizona encompasses Latino gang members accounting for 59 of males and 41 of females. The jails and prisons in the United States are becoming overrun with convicted gang members.

The criminal justice system has also encountered yet another obstacle when dealing with gang related criminal activity.  Witnesses to criminal gang behavior are being intimidated and threatened to keep quiet and not to testify.  It is a citizens duty to uphold the law and to cooperate with police officials when investigating a crime.  When a gang member or members take it upon themselves to accost a witness in order to retain their freedom, then the courts need to push for a stiffer penalty for obstruction of justice.  Families of potential witnesses have also reported being intimidated as to discourage the witness from testifying in court.  A study was conducted in 1990 by the Victims Service Agency in New York, and the following was discovered  36 of victims and witnesses were threatened 57 of victims and witnesses were not threatened but they feared retaliation witnesses received harassing phone calls, witnesses had cars park outside of their homes preventing them from leaving their residence, property damage including bricks thrown through windows, fire bombs, and a home being set ablaze.
Juvenile gang offenders are entering into the juvenile criminal justice system as young as the age of six.  Programs have been implemented in the juvenile detention facilities in order to provide deprogramming to gang members.  USA Today reported that 40 of the juveniles currently being detained in juvenile detention facilities are in fact gang members.  They also added that there are over one million gang members being held in the United States prison system today whereby 80 of all crimes committed were by gang members or were gang related.  Juveniles are exposed to gang activity on a daily basis including in the school systems. Children see violence and victimizing every day.  Body searches for drugs and guns when entering a public school is a regular occurrence for students now.
Prison guards have been given a special list of disciplinary actions to be taken against juvenile offenders who are gang affiliated.  Juvenile offenders are to be segregated and locked down.  There is to be an immediate interruption of all outside communication such as a telephone privilege.  Each situation is managed on a case-by-case basis.  In the worst case scenario, the juvenile offender who simply cannot conform to life in the juvenile detention facility will ultimately be transferred to another facility.  This is due largely in part of the fact that 10.3 of juvenile offenders who are gang members have assaulted the prison staff.
The United States is in a very critical state of dilemma.  Illegal aliens are rushing over the borders with no idea or means to survive unless they join a gang as a last resort.  The economic drain that gang related crimes is putting on the taxpayers is astounding.  Unfortunately, there is likely more criminal behavior to come.  Gang members are joining at younger and younger ages.  The poor influence that juveniles are encountering from being exposed to gang life does nothing but encourage long-term delinquency.  Members of the community are stifled by the generalized fear and anxiety that they feel.  The United States needs tougher laws and the provisions that would allow those laws to be enforced to the fullest extent of the law.  Gang members, who are arrested, even if only on a misdemeanor offense, should not be afforded a low bail.  Bail should be set high enough to keep the gang member locked up.  Members of the community need to stand together and reclaim their neighborhoods.  Citizens should band together and support one another when a member of the community is called to testify against a charged gang member.

Community outreach programs should be inaugurated so that there are feasible outlets and opportunities for safety and answers.  The Asian and Latino gangs are proving to be nothing more than a parasite within the community.  The message needs to be sent out to these gang members letting them know that this kind of unadulterated, careless, anti-social, criminal behavior will not be tolerated here or anywhere in the United States.  Americans are a proud and a determined people.  Americans are a compromising people, too, but this is one issue that America simply cannot ignore any longer.


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