Effectiveness of Gang Enhancement Legislation GEL Term Paper

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¶ … Gang Enhancement Legislation. The writer explores the gang problems in the nation and discusses the effectiveness of enhancing punishments for those crimes that can be shown to be gang related. There were six sources used to complete this paper.

The gang issue in America is not a new one. Gangs have been around for many years but in the past couple of years the violence and gang related crime has escalated significantly.

Police departments across the nation have developed gang units in which the specific purpose is to target and curtail the area's gang criminal activity. There are many different gangs, with many different names however, they all have certain commonalities in that they are driven by criminal activity, they have involvement with the drug industry and they recruit members to keep their numbers strong. As the judicial system continues to handle gang related cases many people have decided that the actions of a gang are even more serious than the actions of a single person and have convinced their states to enact legislation meant to enhance the punishment for crimes committed by gang members. This punishment enhancement idea is meant to deter people from joining or remaining in gangs, even if they find they are going to continue committing crimes. The legislation is having an impact at least on the willingness of gang members to align themselves with or admit openly that they are a member of a gang.

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GANGS gang is a youth group formed with three or more individuals who are usually between the ages of 12 and 34. The association of the group is self formed with no formal sponsorship or support from the community or other agencies.

Term Paper on Effectiveness of Gang Enhancement Legislation GEL Assignment

The members often decide on clothing or jewelry that they will each wear to show their support for their particular gang. They are also named and they have various developed hand signals that are shown to each other on the street. If this was all a gang entailed there would not be a problem, however, most if not all gangs are involved at least to some extent in criminal activities, and those who join gangs develop criminal lifestyles. Most if not all gangs are involved in the illegal drug industry as well (What is a youth gang? (http://www.iir.com/nygc/faq.htm#q3).

Gang activity is notably prevalent in the largest cities (population over 100,000) in the United States -- over 90% reported gang activity in each year between 1996 and 2003 (National Youth Gang Center, forthcoming) (What is a youth gang? (http://www.iir.com/nygc/faq.htm#q3)."

In recent years it has become both more and less difficult to identify gang members. While many gang members are instructed by their gang doctrine not to admit their affiliation they pride themselves in wearing identifying jewelry or clothing and sporting gang tattoos.

Gang migration is also a relatively new problem as gangs continue to expand and send members to various areas of the nation to recruit and begin "branch offices." In addition gang members who are forced to relocate to be near family or friends or parents who are transferred often start "chapters" of their gangs in their new surroundings (What is a youth gang? (http://www.iir.com/nygc/faq.htm#q3).

Gang related crime increased between the 1980's and 1990's and this has been attributed through research to the increase during that same period of crack cocaine and other drug availability in America (What is a youth gang? (http://www.iir.com/nygc/faq.htm#q3).

One of the key features of gang criminal activity is the use of firearms. Gun problems are often related to gang activity which is one of the factors that cause law enforcement to view gang activity as extremely serious.


For many years the legal system has documented and researched gang activities and recently the legislation in many states has voted to enhance the punishment for those who are in a gang and commit criminal activity in relation to that gang.

California has an enhanced punishment package for anyone who commits a crime with relation to their gang membership. The legislation provides for punishment up to and including life for committing a crime in association with being in a criminal street gang. The sentence could be enhanced with a life sentence depending on the crime. If the crime is a home invasion robbery the defendant will not only get the robbery sentence but will also get a 15-year additional sentence for being in a gang at the time of the robbery. If the person commits a crime of extortion the defendant will not only get the sentence for the extortion but will also get sentenced to an additional seven years for being a gang member when committing the crime (California 213. Punishment for Robbery (http://www.iir.com/nygc/gang-legis/california.htm).

There are several provisions to strengthen the enhancement package if the crime is committed by an gang member.

One part of that law includes the following:

Commission of a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members, if also convicted of a felony violation of witness or victim intimidation involving a credible threat of violence or death made to the witness or victim of a violent felony for the purpose of preventing or dissuading the witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at any trial for a violent felony (para. (5), subd. (b), Sec. 186.22, Pen. C.) (California 213. Punishment for Robbery (http://www.iir.com/nygc/gang-legis/california.htm)."


Recently California legislators approved the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP) in which it proclaimed every person is entitled to live peacefully without fearing violent groups of people (gangs) (California 186.20, California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, STEP Act California 186.20 (http://www.streetgangs.com/laws/stepact.html).

The Act was declared when legislators agreed that California faces a crisis with state's rising gang issues that are creating atmospheres in which law abiding citizens are being made to feel fearful in their own everyday lives.

Research into California gang activity indicated that the gangs present a clear and present danger to the public. Statistically there are more than 600 active street gangs currently operating in California. Gang homicides have increased by 80% since 1987. The Act is aimed at violent street gangs and its purpose is to eradicate street gang violence and intimidation of the public (California 186.20, California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, STEP Act California 186.20 (http://www.streetgangs.com/laws/stepact.html).

The act mandates that anyone who has been convicted in a criminal court or has a petition in juvenile court for gang related crimes will register with the chief of police in the city or town that they reside in.

At the time the defendant is sentenced the defendant will be instructed that they are mandated to register. If the defendant is a juvenile the defendant will appear at the precinct with a parent ort other legal guardian to register. If the defendant is being released from a jail or prison he or she will be instructed to register as a condition of probation or parole. If there is no probation or parole the inmate will be informed of the duty to register upon release.

The registrant is to provide fingerprints and a recent photograph as well.

Anytime the person moves he or she is required to notify the police within the first 10 days of moving.

If his or her new residence address is located within the jurisdiction of a law enforcement agency other than the agency where he or she last registered, he or she shall register with the new law enforcement agency, in writing, within 10 days of the change of residence (California 186.20, California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, STEP Act California 186.20 (http://www.streetgangs.com/laws/stepact.html)."

The communities that require the registration are:

Fresno, Glendale, Long Beach,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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