The term “Gang” is polysemantic. Such is the case that various definitions exist based on the definer’s interests and perceptions, academic fashions, and to an extent the changing social setting of the gangs. In the past, gangs were taken lightly as representing “play groups”, but recent times have seen them transforming to the ones possessing more pejorative connotations. Today, gangs have evolved into more pathological as opposed to functional groupings to great extent almost criminal and violent group. The latest definition of gangs depicts criminality as an inherent idea in such groupings (Shelden, Tracy & Brown, 2004). A gang is termed as a functional when it is identified as having such aspects as an organizational structure, identifiable territory, recognizable leadership, recurrent interactions. In addition, gangs have been closely linked to serious criminal offenses of a violent nature. Information from the past studies reveals an increased prevalence of gangs’ activities in metropolises. In the past decade, 25, 0000 active gangs believed to be in existence in America (Gottfredson, 2001). The reports have notified a slight decline of gang activities between 1996 and 2003; however, by the end of 2010 the yearly estimates displayed a significant increase. The latest study indicates an approximation of more than 29000 gangs, which represents a 4.6% increase as opposed to 2009. Certainly, this presents the highest yearly estimate since 1997.
The rate of gang’s activities in suburban cities is almost equal to their performance in major towns. However, megapolises have been depicted as their primary locations, which are considered to host nearly two-thirds of the gangs’ nationally. Although suburban counties and larger cities conceivably accounts for large numbers of gangs, there is a substantial disparity within each area type. Such is the case that 45% of bigger cities and more than half of the suburban counties report ten or less active gangs within their jurisdiction (Langton, 2010). On the other hand, a greater part of agencies in the rural counties and smaller cities report less than five gangs. The area type also explains a considerably large variation in the number of gang members reported between 2006 and 2010 (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2012). The suburban counties and bigger cities have been depicted again as hosting large numbers of gangs. Consequently, one in every five large cities accounted for 1,000 or even more gang members deemed higher when compared to one in ten reported in suburban counties.
Gangs have been closely linked to homicide activities. The period between 2000 and 2010 saw an average of 80 percent of people reporting gang-related homicides within their jurisdictions. In this case, the data got from the NYGS sample depicting the period between 2006 and 2010 showed an average of nearly 2,000 annual murders. At the same time, the FBI anticipated, on average, greater than 16,000 homicides all over America (Barker, 2007). A further report relating to cities with the populations of over 100,000 citizens, showed the number of gang-linked manslaughters as having increased by approximately 10 % from 2008 to 2009, a similar scenario was depicted in the period between 2009 and 2010 (Muraskin, & Roberts, 2002). Another significant gang-related information from the respondents showed crimes, ranging from person offenses, drug related crimes and use of fire arms. However, the relative absence of comprehensive and definitive gang-crime data regarding violent and nonviolent crimes indicates that there is so much still to be told about gang crime trends. Gang activities have also been extended to committing street crimes like drug trafficking, extortion and theft (Gaines & Kappeler, 2011). Also, gangs have been shown to resort to victimization of individuals through kidnapping and robbery. A report from the conducted studies depicts street gangs’ dominance in certain “turf” or territory where they extort people in the name of “providing protection”. In such cases, they use fronts to display control and gain proceeds in certain areas.
The gangs’ menace also impacts the criminal justice system in the following ways. First, their presence leads to a significant violence increase within the correction facilities. In this case, the victims may be either rival gangs of the same prison, other prisoners or even the staff working within the penitentiary. The cause of such deeds has been closely associated with an increased cost of the facilities running since more qualified staff and other means of security must be acquired and maintained (Soliz, 2009). Secondly, corrective centers have served as networking areas where gangs can increase their membership that will help them to further their influence. The danger of such expansions is the increased access to weaponry and drug trafficking. The other effect of gangs within the correction facilities is the increase in economic rackets. This includes things like gambling, loan sharking, sexual activities, clothing and food. According to a study carried out in 2004, more than 87% of prisons reported the existence of powerful drug rackets ensuing from gang members activities (Klein, 2001). It has been proven that the fighting with gangs over the drug dealing would lead to probable increase in riots and violence within the correctional facilities. Lastly, gang presence in the correction centers have led to pronounced racism. Such is the case that rival gangs within the prison are usually structured around ethnic-racial ties (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2012). Rival gangs always recruit new members and work hard to instill racial prejudice into them. One of such groups is Aryan Brotherhood that comprises white-extremists and as opposed to them there is the Black Guerilla Family which was formed by black racists.
From this study, it is clear that big cities and the suburban counties account for the largest activities carried out by gangs across America. Also, highly populated areas serve as good ground for gangs to thrive. The research study conducted in 2012 showed 63 percent of homicides having occurred in cities with a population of 100,000 citizens or even more, and 22% occurring in suburban counties. Obviously, gangs made a significant threat to the peaceful co-existence of people of any area. For this reason, a tough action should be taken to not only stop the spread of the existing gang activities but also prevent the creation of new gang groupings (McCabe, & Martin, 2005). Hence, three broad strategies can be employed to avert the problem. These strategies will deal with prevention of youth from joining gangs, transformation of present gangs to become area clubs, and making mediations and intervention between conflicting gangs (McCabe, & Martin, 2005). Considering the three strategies, prevention programs, which incorporate school curriculums and further afterschool leisure activities, appear to be promising with regard to prevention of unwarranted gang activities.
In conclusion, gang activities that where once believed to pose no threat have gradually transformed into those that assume questionable direction. For this reason, gangs and gang activities should be discouraged within our societies. The government together with other stakeholders should find mechanisms to avert the effect of these ever-growing groupings. Hence, sound social structures should be employed to deal with the problem within our cities. In addition, the correction centers management should deduce mechanisms to help prevent the growth of hard-core gangs inside the prisons. In this case, tough measures a need to be taken as a way of discouraging the networking issue known to produce more dangerous gangs within the prisons.