The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach / Edition 1

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Every day there are new stories of gang-related crime: from the proliferation of illegal weapons in the streets and children dealing drugs in their schools, to innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of never-ending gang wars. Once considered an urban phenomenon, gang violence is permeating American life, spreading to the suburbs and bringing the problem closer to home for much of America. The government, schools, social agencies, and the justice system are conspicuous by their sporadic interest in the subject and have failed to develop effective policies and programs. Existing social support mechanisms and strategies for suppressing violence have often been unsuccessful. And, state and federal policy is largely nonexistent.
In The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach, Irving Spergel provides a systematic analysis of youth gangs in the United States. Based on research, historical and comparative analysis, and agency documents and the author's extensive first-hand experience, the work explores the gang problem from the perspective of community disorganization, especially population movement, and the plight of the underclass. It examines the factors of gang member personality, gang dynamics, criminal organization, and the influence of family, school, prisons, and politics, as well as the response of criminal justice agencies and community groups. Spergel describes techniques used by social agencies, schools, employment programs, criminal justice agencies, and grass-roots organizations for dealing with gangs, and recommends strategies that emphasize the use of local resources, planning, and collaborative procedures.
There is no single strategy and no easy solution to the youth gang problem in the United States. There are, however, substantial steps we can take, and they must be honestly and systematically tested. Offering a practical and alternative approach to a serious social problem, The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach is a major and long-awaited contribution to this dilemma. It is required reading for criminal justice personnel, school staff, social workers, policy makers, students and scholars of urban and organizational sociology, and the general reader concerned with the youth gang problem and how to control, intervene, and prevent it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Likely to be a basic resource for students of youth gangs for some time to come."—Choice

"The book provides a comprehensive and insightful theoretical examination of youth gang problems, related phenomena, and alternative explanations. It also provides and extensive and current description and analysis of the policies and strategies that are being used to deal with gang problems in the community. I enthusiastically recommend it to students of criminal justice in general and of juvenile delinquency in particular."—Dr. Amnon Lazar, University of Haifa, Israel

"This is not "another" book on youth gangs. It is a descriptive, scholarly, and thought-provoking treatise on the proliferation of youth violence, gang membership, gang mobility, and the mandatory responses of government, the criminal justice system, and social agencies...Adds a major contribution to our knowledge of crimingla interaction patterns and techniques...Spergel has written an organized and scholarly piece...Rich in theory and practical application."—Journal of Criminal Justice

"This book is the product of a lifetime of research and action by one of the most senior scholars in this field. The author's long involvement with gang interventions provides welcome depth and judgment in categorizing and assessing these efforts."—American Journal of Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195092035
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Edition description: FACSIMILE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,452,608
  • Product dimensions: 9.13 (w) x 6.06 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Chicago
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Comparative and Historical Perspectives 3
2 Research Limitations: Data Sources and Definitions 12
3 Scope and Seriousness of the Gang Problem 26
4 Gangs, Drugs, and Violence 43
5 Gang Member Demographics and Gang Subcultures 55
6 The Structure of the Gang 70
7 The Gang Member Experience 90
8 The Ecological Context 110
9 Youth Gangs and Organized Crime 129
10 Theoretical Perspectives 145
11 Planning for Youth Gang Control and Violence Reduction 171
12 Criminal Justice System: The Police 189
13 Prosecution, Defense, and the Judiciary 208
14 Probation, Corrections, and Parole - After Care 229
15 Social Intervention 247
16 Social Opportunities: Education and Jobs 262
17 Local Community Mobilization and Evolving National Policy 281
Appendix A. Community Mobilization/Planning: Selected Structure and Process Summary 297
Appendix B. Nature and Level of Youth Gang Member Problems to Be Addressed 299
Appendix C. Selected Strategic Activities/Structures for Particular Settings (Organizations) 301
Glossary and Discussion of Terms 309
References 313
Index 337
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