The Gangfighters Network is an organization designed to bridge the gap between academia and the criminal justice professions. For more information, visit http://www.gangfighters.net/ and http://www.gangsinthemilitary.com/ The focus is on gangs, initially adult gangs as it appears they have been ignored or absorbed into the mainstream society. There's a special focus on gang members in the military.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gang member undergrads: What are gang members doing in our colleges and universities?


Submitted to Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference proceedings (March 2012)

Abstract: With the growing presence of criminal street gang members in the United States, communities everywhere are experiencing the damaging impact of their criminal behavior. A 2011 report by the National Gang Intelligence Center reported the number of gang members in the United States was conservatively estimated at 1.4 million. As these gang members evolve, are they using our nation’s colleges and universities to educate themselves? How will that affect our communities? This paper reports results of a survey of college students and campus police regarding their perception of the presence of gang members on their campus. Less than one in four students agreed there was a gang problem in the community around their campus, while two of three of the police respondents agreed with the statement.  Students and police agreed in similar percentages that there was a gang problem within the campus community.  At least half of both students and police thought gang members were responsible for less than 10% of crime on campus. About two of three students and police reported less than 10% of the students were active gang members. The Bloods, Crips, and Gangster Disciples were the top three gangs in the campus community for both groups. Drugs crimes, Assaults, assorted Weapons crimes, Robberies and Sexual Assaults were reported as gang-related crimes.
                                                                                                                                         
Keywords: gang activity in college, street gangs in university, percent of students having gang association, gangs in college, gangs in universities, college gangs.

A 2011 report by the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) reported an overall increase in gang membership, and the expansion of criminal street gangs’ control of street-level drug sales and collaboration with rival gangs and other criminal organizations. The NGIC (2011) reported the number of gang members in the United States was estimated at 1.4 million.  That figure represented an increase of 400,000 over the conservatively estimated 1,000,000 as of September 2008.  The 2009 NGIC estimate represented 212,000 more gang members (26% higher) than the 2007 report.  The estimate was 215,000 (28%) higher than the number of gang members reported by the National Youth Gang Center in 2006 (Egley & O’Donnell, 2008).  The estimate was also 200,000 (25%) higher than the 800,000 gang members reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Deputy Director Pistole (2008) in March of 2008.

A connection between gang membership and college education has been identified in a variety of disciplines.  It was deemed noteworthy that three of the organizations responding to the 2011 NGIC survey were University Police Departments.  Economist Levitt and Sociologist Venkatesh (2000) examined the profits of a Chicago-based drug gang relative to legitimate labor market activities.  

Cadwaller (2010) examined potential correlations and relationships between membership in fraternities and gangs. The study posed questions regarding club and fraternity participation, tattoos, musical preference, academic standing, demographics, and acquaintance with gang members from before college (Cadwaller, 2010). 

Cureton and Bellamy (2007) interviewed a college junior, known as Sweet T, a member of the Rigsby Court Gangster Bloods street gang from San Antonio, TX.  Sweet T joined the gang at age 14 and was well known as a fighter.  He was raised in a two-parent home, and his father was a minister.  

Community members perceive gang presence differently, apparently depending on their role in the community. Less than one in four student respondents (22%) agreed or strongly agreed that there was a gang problem in the community around their campus.  A much larger percentage (66%) of the police respondents agreed with the statement.  Students and police agreed in similar percentages (20% and 28%, respectively) there was a gang problem within the campus community.  Most (88%) police thought gang members were responsible for less than 10% of crime on campus, while only half (50%) of the student respondents thought gang members were responsible for over 10% of crime on campus.

References
Cadwallader, T. W. (2010). Gangs go to college: A preliminary report. Journal of Gang Research, 17(4), 13-20.

Cureton, S. and Bellamy, R. (2007). Gangster 'Blood' Over College Aspirations: The Implications of Gang Membership for One Black Male College Student. Journal of Gang Research, 14(2) 31-49.

Egley, A. Jr. & O’Donnell, C. E. (2008). Highlights of the 2006 National Youth Gang Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs.

Etter, G. W. & Swymeler, W. G. (2008). Examining the demographics of street gangs in Wichita, Kansas. Journal of Gang Research, 16(1), 1-12.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement. (2007). 2007 Statewide gang survey results. Retrieved from http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JFAO-789KGG/$file/2007
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Levitt, S. D. & Dubner, S. J. (2006). Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York, NY: Harper Collins

Levitt, S. D. & Venkatesh, S. A. (2000). An economic analysis of a drug-selling gang’s finances. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 755-789. doi: 10.1162/003355300554908

National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC]. (2009). National gang threat assessment - 2009. Washington, DC: National Gang Intelligence Center.

National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC]. (2011). National gang threat assessment - 2011. Washington, DC: National Gang Intelligence Center.

National Youth Gang Center (2009). National youth gang survey analysis. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis

New Jersey State Police (2007) Gangs in New Jersey: Municipal law enforcement response to the 2007 NJSP gang survey. New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety Division of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section. Retrieved from http://www.state.nj.us/njsp/info/pdf/njgangsurvey-2007.pdf

Pistole, J. S. (2008, March 3). Speech for 2nd Los Angeles IACP summit on transnational gangs, Los Angeles, California. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/speeches/pistole 030308.htm

Seals, A. (2009). Are gangs a substitute for legitimate employment? Investigating the impact of labor market effects on gang affiliation. KYKLOS, 62(3), 407-425 doi:10.1111/j.1467-6435.2009.00443.x

Sullivan, J. P., and Bunker, R. J. (2007). Third generation gang studies: An introduction. Journal of Gang Research, 14(4), 1-10. Chicago, IL: National Gang Crime Research Center.

Wilson, G.I. & Sullivan, J.P. (2007). On gangs, crime and terrorism. Special to Defense and the National Interest. Retrieved from http://d-n-i.net/fcs/pdf/ wilson_sullivan_gangs_terrorism.pdf

http://apsu.academia.edu/CarterSmith/Papers/1519995/Gang_member_undergrads_What_are_gang_members_doing_in_our_colleges_and_universities

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