Crime is an act committed in violation of the law that governs them for which punishment is imposed upon conviction. The acts are deemed injurious to the interest of the state and welfare of the public. In this case, citizens are liable to punishment in omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law. These acts pose a major concern to the stability of a democratic society. Generally, crime can be characterized into violent crime comprising homicide, rape, robbery, and assault and property crime comprising burglary, theft, and arson. Existence and rise in crime is contributed by many things such as gangs, which recruit new members into their groups. There are generally various factors associated with the rise of crime such as poverty and unemployment, which has driven citizen into criminal activities in a bid to earn a living, release of convicts who resume their former lifestyle on the streets, drug use, and poor parenting and increased availability of guns to the public. To solve the issue of violence in relation availability of guns has driven the government to push Legislative Assembly to tighten gun ownership laws; this was specifically directed to the youths who could easily access guns.
Gangs are organized groups of people with a common identity in opposition of the state and pubic law, and with organized criminal intentions. The gangs' main aim and agenda is to gain money and power from their criminal intentions. These groups are involved in street activities such as extortion and distribution of drugs in connection to drug cartels. Nevertheless, lack of political will to fight crime is the main a biggest challenge to measures put in place to reduce crime.
Simple and Local Street Gangs normally grow with time, characterized with geographical expansion, they become more organized and sophisticated thus posing a major security threat, leading to political instability of a country in which the gang has based its operation.
Crime in America has been a major concern for a long period since the twentieth century, and despite the short-run decline in crime rates, rates of violent crimes is projected to remain high up to the next century. Crime occurs at different rates depending on the location in the United States. The largest and most violent gangs in the United States operate in Central America and Mexico. While some states are nearly free of serious crime, other states are characterized by some of the highest serious crime rates in the industrialized world. Serious crimes against persons increased significantly in the 1970s and 1960s in the United States. (Gurr R, 1989, pg 21)
High numbers of teens have from time to time become involved in criminal activities in the United States. Gang violence has developed into enormous threat to the well-being of the society of the United States; it has grown out of control and developed into a more complex and sophisticated act. Crime in the United States was originally thought to be a problem of the inner-city environment. Surprisingly, gang violence has spilled over into the smallest cities and rural areas of the United States of America. This has occurred since the police forces have placed a lot of pressure on gangs operating in the big cities. The gangs have been forced to seek new territories where the police force is reluctant to arrest criminals to face the full force of law.
Gangs which used to engage in criminal activities through vandalism and petty theft in the 1950's have now advanced into more serious and life threatening crimes like drug dealing, burglary and extortion. Criminal activities has always been on the increase since it proved that gang members aren't in most cases brought to law by the justice system; Criminals detained by police are not necessarily held in custody. For instance, studies show that 80 percent of criminals escape detention even though they engage in the most serious offences.
Crime rate has risen in the United States mainly due the high number of youths living in poverty, poor standards of living, and single parent families. Despite this, institutions of civil society are proving too weak to keep their youthful members away from criminal activities, thus leaving them to be exposed to the influences and hard life in the streets. In addition, income inequality has a direct relation to the rate of criminal activities. However, USAID has also laid down measures to enable enactment of judicial reform, to widen democratic governance, enhance improvement of education, and foster economic development. Education system may also be used to impart positive attributes and morals such as necessity to honest labour, obedience, patriotism and self-dignity (Thompton, 1972).
Criminal violence has become a core issue in the society today; the vermin of organized gangs is a matter of critical concern. Youths are the main victims of the concern and at the same time, the ones who propagate and originate this social vice. Basically, it can be said that the youth gangs are violent to the community and to themselves. Despite this, the concern remains widely misunderstood as societies own creation from its own makings and adaptations. The society needs to re-examine it and specifically the forces that drive people into committing crime and joining gangs within. Juvenile offenders learn and develop criminality from the society they live in and not from their own imagination.
Gang violence in the United States has become an issue of critical concern, it is therefore important that enactment of tough anti-gang legislations are put in place to help reduce gang violence if not solve it completely. Gang violence is proved to inhibit social development and discourage foreign investment. Drug smuggling, illegal distribution of weapons and illegal immigration is mainly propagated by evil gang activities in the United States.
Poverty and unemployment, being the root cause of violence, must be addressed to pave way for significant reduction in gang violence, and to curb further escalation of criminal activities. Economic hardships have proved to have a direct relation to crime rates. In addition, decrease in legitimate income makes possible gains from crime more attractive (Gurr R, 1989, p163). The governments' efforts should be focused on implementation of social rehabilitation and prevention programs to play a big role on curbing increased rate of criminal gang activities. To curb the vice of joblessness, legislators proposed to the World Bank to look for means to be able to fund programmes that provide training opportunities for former gang members in the job market.
Police force crackdowns have also many a times been a major means to reducing crime rate and gangs that roam the streets significantly, although it was strongly opposed by human rights groups. It was one of the best and effective measure to curb gang crimes. The human rights groups were concerned about the treatment of gang suspects by vigilante groups and police forces. The rights groups emphasized on the effects of the police force and vigilante groups crackdown on civil liberties. To counteract these oppositions, the government has embarked on developing another package of legislation to improve the country's criminal code. This has a positive impact to criminal gangs, as it will improve justice systems capacity to investigate and prosecute gang members.
To bring up the young kids in a manner that will help them stay away from criminal gangs in future, the government introduced programs that were supported by a number of Domestic and international non-governmental organizations. The programs seek to provide access to theater and sports activities to children and youths in the society irrespective of their background and economic class. The government adopted this strategy as a national crime prevention strategy that focuses on family, school, and Community interventions. In establishing support system to the above programme, the government has also developed programs to prevent gang-related crimes and assists former gang members to permanently dump their past activities and behaviors. It puts the disadvantaged and vulnerable youth far away from gang influences and recruitment.
The society has developed program to help the youths engage in activities that keep them away from the streets in which organized crime arises. This program provides a framework in which youths can engage themselves in training on computers and sewing machines. This program not only helps youths in general, but also focuses on young school dropouts to get tangible qualifications to enable them get jobs and participate in self-motivation and employment activities. It teaches young people on how to present themselves to increase there competitiveness in acquiring employment. In the long run, it enables youths to get jobs that can sustain them. Through this program, school kids are provided with a safe haven, which keeps them away from the pull of drug-dealing gangs. This mainly focuses on kids who may not have adults at home to direct and restrict them from devious activities and influence. This program gets funding from private foundations, the government, and even police department.
Reduced crime rates are attributed to widespread local initiatives, which are initiated within the society and funded by the government itself, and foundations. Vigilante groups that patrol the streets without guns have been efficient in ensuring no gang violence s are committed in there presence. The vigilante groups work in such a way that they signal their presence and report suspicious activities to police. In addition, churches and civic associations host activities for children and counseling for families. Victims' associations lobby for longer prison terms for criminals.
Initiative programs work with those citizens who are deemed undereducated young people in societies and environments. These environments are considered to be poverty-stricken and face the challenge of necessity to find them jobs to enable them earn themselves a sustainable income, which acts as a honest alternative to the money they can easily access through gang violence. This is due to the fact that sale of illegal drugs and unlawfully supplying weapons has proved to be an easy avenue for criminals to earn a living and enrich themselves
The society has actively participated in fighting and reducing crime, while willing citizens have formed associations to collectively engage in activities that help curb crime. In addition, government agencies have continued to support such initiatives that play a great and effective role in curbing crime.
Local organizations and initiatives, which consist of the members of the society that is directly affected by the gangs and moral deviants, has the best ability to know the needs of the local people.