THE ECONOMICS OF GANG LIFE:
A Task Force Report
of the National Gang Crime Research Center
George W. Knox, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC).
Edward D. Tromanhauser, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Criminal Justice, Chicago State University.
James G. Houston, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Polictical Science and Criminal Justice, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.
Brad Martin, M.P.A., J.D., professor, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Findlay, Findlay, Ohio.
Robert E. Morris, MD, UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, CA.
Thomas F. McCurrie, M.S., Managing Editor, Journal of Gang Research, NGCRC, Chicago, IL.
John L. Laskey, professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Morton College, Cicero, Illinois.
Dorothy Papachristos, president, Communities Dare To Care, Chicago, Illinois.
Judith Feinberg, M.A., therapist, Communities Dare To Care, Chicago, Illinois.
Charla Waxman, M.B.A., Director of Program Services, Linden Oaks Hospital, Naperville, IL.
COPYRIGHT 1995: National Gang Crime Research Center.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Abstract)
This research gathered information directly from over 1,000 gang members in order to understand the costs and benefits associated with gang life in America today.
The research involved collecting the same data in different types of social contexts where we might expect to find gang members: adult and juvenile correctional facilities, and community programs (alternative high school, gang prevention program, private day jail program, etc). The data was collected in five states including: California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio.
The results are based on an extensive analysis of over one thousand gang members.
The gang appears to function not unlike a union guild for the underground economy: members pay dues, they attend meetings, they have rules to live by, treasuries are maintained by the gang, the gang may make collective expenditures from its treasury to provide small welfare support payments to such members in jail, to retain private attorneys, etc.
Gangs do operate a wide variety of cash business enterprises across the United States.
Gangs do appear to have a variety of legal and illegal income sources, thus they do maintain "treasuries". How gang income is spent is the focus of much additional analysis in this report (i.e., on attorneys, guns, funerals, etc).
There are, obviously, differences between gangs on their level of organizational sophistication; but the higher level gangs which are more organizationally sophisticated do appear to have a number of formalized economic functions and capabilities as well. Most of the gangs analyzed here are of the more sophisticated type: they have formalized rules, often their own argot or gang language, and exist in different areas. These gangs have gang members who are youths and adults, but the top leaders are for the most part adults with long tenure in the gang.
The research also focused on a variety of issues about the underground economy, including street prices for various illegal items. Some of the mean or average values included the following: $268.90 for a new 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol; $42.25 for a new box of 9mm gun cartridges; $882.06 for one ounce of pure cocaine; $155.53 for one stolen 12 gauge shotgun; $111.33 for one stolen 38 cal. revolver; and $191.78 for one ounce of top grade marijuana.
Gang members are analyzed in detail, as well as gang alliance systems (People/Folks, Crips/Bloods), and some specific gang identities are also used as the unit of analysis given the large sample size for this research.
About a third of all gang members would "snitch" on other gang members given the right incentives by police or prosecutors.
- ii -
This was a large scale study involving multiple social contexts and multiple sites in five states (California, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio). Obviously, we owe a lot of appreciation to a lot of people who assisted in one way or another at various stages of this research.
We want to thank the following staff and research assistants of the National Gang Crime Research Center: Gary Murphy, Mary Chambers, Zahara Jody, Roberto Nieves, and David Snow.
We express our appreciation to the Los Angeles County Office of Education and its Division of Juvenile Court and Community Schools its director Mr. Larry Springer and Dr. Arthur L. McCoy, principal Central Juvenile Hall School, for assistance and cooperation in collecting data for this study. We are also grateful to Billy Burkert, Superintendent of the Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, and the many staff members there who also assisted in our work.
We are grateful for the assistance from the TASC Research Department; Treatment Alternatives for Special Clients (TASC), Chicago, IL.
We are especially grateful to Alice Pickett Franklin, Ph.D., a Research Administrator with the Ohio Department of Youth Services for vital assistance in data collection in Ohio sites.
We obliged as well to extend our positive regards to a large number of others we met during this research and who helped out in various ways, the detail of which of beyond our ability to summarize here. In a nutshell, this work could not have been done without a lot of help from a lot of people, and so many names are worthy of listing here that make it an endless task. Most of the agencies and sites used for data collection in this research prefer to be not acknowledged. We owe these site agencies a great deal for their assistance in this and in other research projects.
Finally, we are grateful for the help and cooperation from N = 1,015 gang members who completed our survey and who provided the basis for the analysis reported here.
- iii -
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
George W. Knox, Ph.D., is the executive director of the National Gang Crime Research Center, author of An Introduction to Gangs now in its 3rd edition (1995), and has conducted research on gangs for over twenty years.
James. G. Houston, Ph.D. is the author of the recent textbook Correctional Management (Nelson-Hall, 1994) and has extensive prior experience in gang research. Dr. Houston will be assuming a criminal justice position at Appalachian State University in August, 1995.
Edward D. Tromanhauser, Ph.D., is the author (along with George Knox) of Schools Under Siege (Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company, 1992), an extensive study of gang problems in the school environment. He has a number of other publications that are also based on gang research. He is the chairperson of the Department of Criminal Justice at Chicago State University.
Brad Martin, M.P.A., J.D., is a faculty member of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Findlay, Findlay, Ohio.
Robert E. Morris, MD teaches in the School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and practices as a pediatric specialist.
Thomas F. McCurrie, M.S., is the managing editor of the Journal of Gang Research published by the National Gang Crime Research Center; he teaches in the Department of Criminal Justice and the CSU-CHA Armed Security Training Academy at Chicago State University.
John L. Laskey, M.A., teaches criminal justice at Morton College, Cicero, IL as well as at Chicago State University.
Judith Feinberg, M.A., teaches a gang course at Calumet College and works as a clinical psychotherapist with a specialization in working with gang members during their incarceration as well as after their release from custody.
Dorothy Papachristos is a community activist who co-founded along with Judith Feinberg the direct action program for at-risk and troubled youths in Chicago known as Communities Dare to Care. She has much experience in dealing with gangs, gang members, and working with other crime prevention groups.
Charla Waxman, M.B.A., is a gang intervention consultant and currently works at the Linden Oaks Hospital (Naperville, IL) in developing community education programs.
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Introduction.............................................. 1
A Look at the Books: Financial Ledgers of the Gang....... 7
A Look Inside the Financial Records of a Major Chicago Gang 13
II. Methodology.............................................. 20
Formation of the Project GANGECON Task Force............. 20
Sampling Gang Members in Multiple Social Contexts........ 22
Item Development and Pretesting the Survey Instrument.... 23
Sampling Over 1,000 Gang Members in Five States.......... 24
Internal Controls on Data Validity....................... 25
1. Covert Observation................................ 25
2. Overt Observation................................. 26
3. Zero Tolerance for Data Entry or Transcription Errors............................................ 27
4. Few Unusable Survey Instruments Detected.......... 27
5. An Acceptable Level of Trust Was Established...... 28
6. High Cognition on the Meaning of the Survey
Items Implies Clearly We are Measuring what we
Purport to Measure................................ 30
7. Built-in "Lie Tests".............................. 31
Other Issues of Validity................................. 34
Other Issues of Validity and Reliability: For Improving
Future Research....................................... 49
Types of Gangs Represented in the Sample of Over 1,000
Gang Members.......................................... 50
III. Descriptive Findings For All Variables in the Gang
Member Sample........................................ 51
Introduction and Overview............................... 51
Gang Members Believe in Normal Things................... 51
Belief in "Eye for an Eye" Justice...................... 51
Beliefs About the Legal System and Justice.............. 51
Anger Control Problems Among Gang Members............... 52
Having Ever Paid Protection Money to a Gang............. 52
Having Ever Collected Protection Money on Behalf
of a Gang............................................ 52
Having Ever Paid a Fine to a Gang....................... 53
Employment Status of Parents............................ 54
Feeling Shut Out of an Education or Trade Training...... 54
Number of Prior Arrests Among Gang Members.............. 54
Age at time of First Arrest............................. 55
Juvenile Correctional Experiences....................... 55
School Behavior Problems................................ 55
A Third Have Assaulted School Teachers.................. 56
Number of Physical Fights During the Last Year.......... 56
Number of Close Friends and Associates Who are Gang Members............................................. 56
Number of Close Friends and Associates Who Use Illegal
All Report Having Ever Joined a Gang.................... 57
Types of Gangs Represented in the National Sample....... 57
Length of Tenure in the Gang............................ 58
Over Two-Thirds Are Still Active in the Gang............ 58
Reasons for Joining the Gang............................ 58
Having Ever Attempted to Quit the Gang.................. 59
Gangs Operating Legitimate Businesses................... 59
Over a Third Report they Pay Dues Regularly to Their Gang 59
Half Report Their Gang Has a Special Language Code...... 60
Two-Thirds Report Their Gang Has Written Rules.......... 60
Older Adult Leaders With High Tenure in the Gang........ 61
The Issue of Gang Operations in Different Geographical Areas............................................... 61
The Issue of Gangster or "Gangsta" Rap Music............ 62
Gang Members Working for Politicians.................... 62
Incarceration Experiences in the Last Five Years........ 63
Working as a "Runner" In a Retail Drug Sales Operation.. 63
The Modern American Gang Operates Much Like a Benevolent Trade Union Group in the Underground Economy........ 64
About Half Have Held Leadership Rank in Their Gang...... 64
Street Prices for Six Different Items in the Underground Economy............................................. 65
Market Research on the Gang Members as Clothing Consumers 65
Committing Crimes for Financial Gain With the Gang...... 65
Type of Family They Come From........................... 66
Gang Members Views on "Work"............................ 66
Most Gang Members Do Know Working People As Significant Others.............................................. 67
Racial Oppression and Poverty: A Fourth Accept This Belief.............................................. 67
Family Economic Backgrounds of Gang Members............. 68
Reciprocity Expectations for Individual Illegal Income: Sharing Loot With the Gang.......................... 68
Prior Employment Experiences of the Gang Member......... 69
Economic Accumulation Among Gang Members................ 69
Three-Fourths Say Their Gang Provides Money to its Needy Members............................................. 70
Pimping and Prostitution Among Gang Members............. 70
Do Gangs Financially Exploit their Members?............. 70
The Flow of Gang Income to the Top Gang Leaders......... 71
Gang Members as a Source of Civil Suits................. 71
Gangs Retaining Private Attorneys for Criminal Matters.. 71
Use of Court Appointed Attorneys by Gang Members........ 71
A Third of the Gang Members Indicate their Gang Keeps
An Account Set Aside for Legal Defense.............. 72
Gang Ratings for the Effectiveness of Private Versus
Court Appointed Attorneys........................... 72
Most Say Their Gang Holds Regular Meetings.............. 72
Gender and Fertility in the Gang Member Sample.......... 72
Age Distribution in the Gang Member Sample.............. 73
Almost a Fourth Expect to be a Future Prison Inmate..... 73
Arrests Among Other Family Members: High in the Gang Family.............................................. 73
Other Reasons for Joining a Gang........................ 74
Three-Fourths Have Family Members Who are Gang Members.. 74
Nearly Half are Willing to Die for their Gang Friends... 74
Nearly Half Believe their Gang Friends would Die for Them 74
Spending Patterns Among Gang Members.................... 75
Half of the Gang Members Report that their Gang Has a Treasury............................................. 75
A Third Have Lived in Public Housing.................... 75
Two-Fifths Have Committed a Crime on Public Housing Property............................................. 75
Half Say the Gangs in Prison Run the Gangs on the Streets 76
A Third Have Been Beaten Up By Their Own Gang........... 76
A Half Have Been Beaten Up By a Rival Gang.............. 76
Limited Loyalty: How 1/4 to 1/3 of All Gang Members Would Rat on Their Own Gang Members For the Right Price............................................... 77
Two-Thirds Have Shot at Someone Because of Gang Activity 77
Nearly Half Have Used Police Radio Scanners To Do a Crime 77
Over a Third Have Used Public Telephones to Conduct Criminal Activity................................... 78
Does Removing Graffiti Discourage Gang Activity in the Area?............................................... 78
A Fourth Have Extorted Protection Money From Small Businesses.......................................... 78
How Gang Members React to Concepts of Community Policing 79
Two-Fifths Have Used Motels/Hotels for Drug Sales Operations.......................................... 80
Impounding Cars: A Deterrent to Gang Members Transporting Guns................................................ 80
About a Fourth are Expected to Share Illegal Income With Their Gang.......................................... 80
Half Are Not Deterred by the Threat of the Penal Sanction 80
Half Report Their Gang Engages in Legal Business Activities........................................... 81
How Gangs Spend Their Treasury Money.................... 81
Displacement: Two Types of Communities Many Gang Members
Would Not Want to Live In............................ 81
The Fagin Phenomenon: Adults Using Kids for Gang Work... 82
Assaults in the Family of the Gang Member: What Comes Around, Goes Around.................................. 82
Siblings in the Same or Rival Gangs..................... 82
Ethnicity Distribution for this Sample of Gang Members.. 83
Additional Questions for Some Sites Included Sexual Abuse Data................................................ 83
Distribution by Type of Social Context.................. 84
IV. Do National Differences Exist Comparing People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods Gang Members?......................... 86
The Variation in Gang Structure and Economic Functional
Capabilities by Type of Gang: A Comparison of People,
Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Others..................... 86
Factors in Common Between The Gang Nations.............. 99
Significant Differences by Gang Nation Types: Comparing
The People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other.......... 109
Gang Members Paying Fines to Their Gang: Highest for
People/Folks, Lowest for Crips/Bloods................ 109
Assaulting School Teachers: Crips Lead the Way......... 110
Ability to Keep Members in the Gang or Whether the Gang Members Has Ever Tried to Quit the Gang: Crips Least Likely to try to Quit the Gang...................... 111
Economic Compliance/Support Structures Are Different
Comparing Gang Systems: People/Folks Gangs Much More
Likely to Benefit From Members Paying Regular Dues.. 111
Gang Argot Language Systems............................. 111
Written Rules for Gang Members: People/Folks More Sophisticated....................................... 112
Non-Contiguous Geographical Turf Control: Folks Hold Down
More Lateral Area................................... 113
Gang Members Working for Politicians: Everyone Does it, But Folks Do it More!............................... 114
Committing Income Producing Crimes With the Gang: Crips
Gang Members Are Doing More "Nation Business"....... 115
Family Members Who Are Also Gang Members................ 116
What "Hard Core" Really Means in Gang Life Today: Being
Willing to Die for Your Gang Friends and Vice Versa. 116
Having a Gang Treasury: More Common to the Midwest Gang
System (People/Folks) Than in Westcoast Gang System. 117
Do The Gangs in Prison Really "Run" The Gangs on the Streets?............................................ 118
Coercive Compliance Inside the Gang Organization........ 119
Gang Gun Violence: Having Fired a Gun at Someone Because
of Gang Activity.................................... 121
Summary of Findings: Comparing People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods.............................................. 121
Gang Owned Business Enterprises......................... 123
V. A Security Threat Group Analysis........................ 128
The Value of A Classification System for Managing Gang Problems............................................ 129
The Simulation Scenario................................. 131
The Simple Procedure: An Additive Scale................. 132
Validating the Gang Risk/Threat Classification System
Summary of Threat Analysis Results...................... 142
Discussion of Findings.................................. 147
VI. The Gang Organization as the Unit of Analysis: The First
Real Comparison of the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords................................................ 149
Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords........................ 150
Differences Between Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords.... 152
1. Slightly Higher Anger Control Problem Among GDs... 153
2. Differences in Terms of Being A Currently Active Member............................................ 154
3. GD's operate more businesses...................... 154
4. GD's pay more dues................................ 157
5. Who they worked for in voter registration......... 157
6. GD's Have a Better "Benefits" Program............. 157
7. GD's Have More Computers.......................... 158
8. Vice Lord Males Have Higher Fertility............. 158
9. Vice Lords More Likely to believe their gang friends will die for them................................. 158
10. Vice Lords also get more "violations"............. 158
Summary and Conclusion................................... 158
VII. Predicting Defection Among Gang Members:
Who Would Snitch?................................... 162
What Snitching Means.................................... 162
How Tough Is It to Suppress A Gang Where One-Third
to One-Fourth of the Members Would Snitch Under
the Right Conditions?............................... 164
Factors Significantly Differentiating Gang Snitches..... 169
Summary of the Factors Significantly Differentiating
Snitches Among Gang Members......................... 176
Can Snitches Be Identified in the Gang Population?...... 177
Predicting Defection Among Gang Members................. 178
VIII. Factors of Employment - Jobs and Gang Problems......... 182
The Measures of Employment and Legitimate Opportunity.. 182
Findings on Employment and Opportunity in Relationship
to other Gang Problems............................. 185
Understanding the Significant Differences Among Gang
Members in Terms of the Employment and Opportunity
Closure Variables.................................. 192
Summary and Conclusion................................. 193
IX. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations............... 195
References and Bibliography................................... 206
Appendix A: Copy of the Survey Instrument................... 207
Appendix B: Listing of Gang Names in the Sample............. 216
Appendix C: Internal Records of Major Chicago Gang.......... 222
Appendix D: Our Advice to American Teens About Gangs:
Truth in Gang Economics Disclosure Form......... 232
End Notes..................................................... 234
- v -
Imagine reading a law enforcement intelligence report based on a close surveillance of the daily activities of a gang member in Chicago or Los Angeles or anywhere in the United States. In summarizing the daily activities of the gang member, imagine the following report summary:
"Subject during the time frame of 0900 to 1500 visited or shopped at the following local business establishments:
0901 Entered a candy store,
0910 Browsed in a video arcade or game room,
0915 Visited a cultural book and artifact store
1000 Visited some rental units in an apartment building
1015 Entered a recording studio
1030 Brought car into tire repair shop
1100 Went to a paint and body shop
1130 Went to a car wash.
Then in the afternoon from 1200 to 1500 the busy subject visited, in subsequent order, the following business establishments: billiards room, dance club, stereo shop, shoe store, low rider shop, liquor store, fashion/clothing store, jewelry store, grocery store, beeper/cellular phone shop, and then a day care center. Subject returned to his dwelling at 1500 hours and ordered some food delivered from a nearby rib joint."
What is wrong with this picture? The answer is: they are all cash business enterprises, and these are all types of businesses reported by gang members in our Project GANGECON study to exist as types of enterprises run by gangs. The Project GANGECON study was undertaken to add to our knowledge about the economic aspects of gang life today. Some gangs do operate or control or own legitimate businesses is one of the major findings of the present study. This has not been previously reported nor systematically examined in the literature.
What are the implications of such findings? The first and most obvious is that such behavior is at first appearance a "prosocial" and normal behavior. The second and rival hypothesis is that less than honorable intentions exist among those running such business enterprises. The third final hypothesis is that some gangs have or are about to make a transition to organized crime in the United States because they have met all the definitive requirements of an organized crime group once they have penetrated or controlled legitimate business activity. A fourth, and worthy admonition to the public, is caveat emptor: buyer or customer beware --- the business you may have just walked into is actually controlled by a criminal gang.
Imagine the following situation, a real incident from Chicago's gang scene in 1994. A gang member is arrested in a routine traffic stop, a gun is found in the vehicle and the vehicle is confiscated. The vehicle is an older Honda Accord. Out on bail, attorneys for the arrested gang members make aggressive moves (filing court petitions, etc) to get the car released from the police impound. Curious about what is so valuable about an older non-luxury vehicle, the officers give the vehicle a full inventory search. They discover it is a trap car: a concealed electronically controlled "stash" area is built into the rear seat to store kilos of cocaine. Such electronically and mechanically controlled concealment devices can easily cost $2,000, which is a small price to pay when a kilo of cocaine goes for $20,000 and in previous years --- well before the proliferation of gangs in American cities moved into this profitable arena --- went as high as $50,000 dollars: which is to suggest that the proliferation of gang involvement with illegal drug sales could have increased the economic competition and thereby lowered the price of certain illegal drugs over time in recent years. In the Chicago incident, the police officers discovered several kilos of cocaine still concealed in the car, inside a hidden electronically controlled concealment or "stash" area. The car is what is known as a "trap car", it has a hidden trap for concealing illegal goods (drugs, guns, etc).
One member of the Gangster Disciples interviewed over time in a case study format during the Project GANGECON task force research helped us understand how vital the economic side of gang life really is to an understanding of the growth and persistence of gangs in America. He was reading the book Winning Through Intimidation and explained how a good reputation or even the best educational credentials may not always guarantee getting results in life, and rather that what really worked for anyone in America was one factor: intimidation. He explained how a drug pusher would come to their gang in any neighborhood throughout the United States and be authorized "to serve all day for $200 dollars", meaning to sell drugs in a street or spot (house, car, business, etc) location in turf controlled by the gang. It is just like selling an economic franchise, or a distribution right in an area. Thus, the gang benefits and the pusher makes $2,000 dollars a day and can afford to pay the gang for protection. In a gang like the Gangster Disciples, they pay not only regular dues of at least $20.00, but also political dues as much as $25.00 a month. Nobody sees the political dues, "that goes to the Chairman", and while the regular membership or chapter dues are often collected under the justification they are to be used to purchase guns, this money too "often goes into the leaders pockets". In other words, a lot of money flows upward in this type of gang organization. This source of information also confirmed what we had been finding in our survey research: that his gang and other gangs like his do in fact own legitimate business enterprises as well. The vast illegal income from the drug money coming into the hands of gang members, including the New Jacks or newer members out hustling, gave some a lot of accumulated capital. This source described a friend his age (early 20's) in the gang who was now a millionaire and operated a real estate company and had two accounts he was bringing in so much money. This source described another friend similarly where the gang illegal income opportunities had afforded a chance to use an excess of disposable income to now operate a car dealership. An accountant who would know was also interviewed along the same lines, and confirmed that these type of situations are rather common; it is, after all little more than a traditional way to launder drug money as well.
We can use the Gangster Disciples as an example to give the reader another glimpse into what has until now been a completely hidden side of gang life. In the City of Chicago alone there are an estimated 35,000 members of the Gangster Disciples. The survey data as well as case study interviews, and debriefings of individuals having completed our surveys who wanted to be more helpful, confirmed that an average gang member may pay at least $20.00 a month in regular membership dues (sometimes much more if they have the "props"). This would mean $8.4 million dollars per year going up the ladder in regular membership dues alone for only one gang in one city! This is a very conservative estimate we feel, for another reason that also is part and parcel of the economic functions of some gangs: their ability to use force. Not paying dues is a sanctionable "violation" of internal rules and regulations of this and a large number of other more organized gangs in America today. Further, a gang member can be "fined" by the gang itself for a violation of expected conduct.
Some gangs that have written constitutions (a factor examined as an element of gang sophistication in the present research project) also address the financial obligations of their members in writing.
Consider this case from the Mickey Cobra gang in Chicago:
The generating of Funds is needed to uplift us from our present economic situation and all members are expected to assist in this portion of our Organization's Structure.
As an Organization, we must have Finance to grow and to do this every member must contribute what he can to the Financial funds...If we begin here to generate funds and re-invest those funds we will have a Business to compete with any which exists at this time. Full cooperation is needed here. Whatever resources you have are needed at this time. These do not include what is already expected of you each month."
This passage quoted as it exists in the typed written constitution of the Mickey Cobra gang suggests clearly: gang members pay dues, and these dues are expected on a regular basis. But also the passage suggests the gang has an interest in expanding its holdings along the lines of a business enterprise. The Almighty Mickey Cobras Nation is a "Peoples" set allied with the Black P. Stone Nation and Vice Lords. The gang name "Mickey Cobra" is derived from their founder Chief Mickey (Henry "Mickey" Cogwell, killed on 2-25-77).
So much hinges on an understanding of the economic structure, function, and process of gang life today. A popular myth about gangs, is that joining a gang and "slanging rocks" (i.e., selling rock or crack cocaine) is a quick "rags to riches" transition for young gang members today. This Horatio Alger myth has been twisted to the effect that it adds a lure and attraction to gang life today: so many youths at risk of gang membership may therefore be joining a gang to "get juice", to get "power and authority", along with the very real economic rewards that may come out of participating in income-producing crimes for and with other gang members. Every time this image of the gang as an alternative or underground economy source of rapid career growth is repeated informally and in the mass media it adds to the benefit equation that helps gangs to lure and attract new "young blood" or "New Jacks" into their membership. But what are the facts? No one really knows much about the economic aspects of gang life today. This is why the Project GANGECON Research Task Force was formed to study this most neglected issue. It is clear, as well, that the results of this study have clear implications for gang prevention.
A LOOK AT THE BOOKS: FINANCIAL LEDGERS OF THE GANG
In the early stages, and in an ongoing way, several of the researchers had access to a real gang asset: a high ranking gang informant used by a variety of federal and other law enforcement agencies. As described in An Introduction to Gangs this particular source of information lives what is called a "snitch farm". A "snitch farm" is a facility concealed from general public view and where the employees cannot know the real name of the "guests": they can only refer to someone by a two letter combination of designated alphabetical initials for what might be names, such as "D.C." for David Conners. In other words, elaborate internal security precautions are taken to protect the identity of these informants. Indeed, prior to the last minute security precautions taken before one can gain entrance to such a facility, polaroid photographs are taken of the visitors one by one and shown to the informant: in order to verify that these are not disguised "hit men" coming in to collect the reward on their heads. Our particular source did rat, snitch, inform, tattletale, and turncoat on his gang --- the Latin Kings. Not surprisingly there is a one hundred thousand dollar "money bag" on this now "ex" member of the Latin Kings. He became such a valuable criminal intelligence asset because he was also a high ranking member of the Latin Kings. He had held the rank of "prince" before his forced retirement. We would like to share what the Prince as we will call him told us about the economic aspects of gang life. It was this and other stories that convinced us as researchers that it was finally time to conduct a study of this phenomenon.
The Prince has all his gang tattoos including the one designated for his rank inside the gang organization he was a part of, the Latin Kings. His hands, arms, and body are covered with gang tattoos. For much of his life, the gang was his only life. Then at one point he became in charge of the books for the gang: and, as sometimes happens to paraprofessional accounts, "a problem with the money" arose. Indeed, a discrepancy of much concern to higher gang leaders, suggestive of some degree of what might be regarded as "white collar crime inside the gang". What are we saying? This loyal gang member could not resist the temptation: he stole some of his gang's own treasury money. And when the gang found out, he knew he was a dead man. Preferring to not take the "punishment" from his own gang which could very likely be similar to that scene where the gang leader is executed as in the movie character did in American Me, this particular gang member did not want to "walk the plank" and accept death as his honorable fate, but rather he "flipped" rather fast.
Federal and various state intelligence investigators found this person to be a sudden new immense source of valuable information. We cannot cite, for security reasons, some of the confidential internal publications of such law enforcement agencies but those who know about this case also know the gang reports we are referring to. We can say only this: we have more than substantially verified the credibility of this genuine informant. We would normally not refer to data sources as "informants", because in the social-linguistics of gang life and any criminal offender population subject to criminological research, this is normally referred to as a term of much derision. But this particular data source really is big snitch, and he has adapted very well to being a "snitch". So we have no problem calling him an informant in this instance. He is such a good snitch, he even snitched on us when one of the researchers gave him what we found out later was an un-authorized item in a kind of hotel room service type of situation where we were buying food and ordering other "goodies" or amenities to soften up the interview process. Security personnel at this special management unit let us know the next time we visited that he had told them and in this unusual social context that no other researcher to our knowledge has ever had access other than ourselves, this incident was never repeated once we knew all the rules and regulations. These personnel are like cottage parents in their relationship to the nearly 30 informants in the facility, and the staff themselves have ambivalent feelings about their assignment and in a comical way refer to their job as working in the "SMURF" unit: where they have to treat known criminals not only with kid gloves, but white gloves to serve the individuals pretty much whatever they want. The snitches have a lot of privileges is another way of explaining this. Perhaps it is the fact that persons like the Prince who are trying to get off murder cases are also getting some benefits that most such offenders should not be getting that creates this type of environment where the personnel sometimes react in this way of joking about the nature of their work, that they are in this way able to resolve what might to the larger public seem like a real contradiction as an official government assignment in the field of criminal justice. Still, impact of snitching for the Prince is comparable only to the famous Valacchi Papers, where a high ranking gangster suddenly converts from an active criminal to an active federal informant against the mob.
We want to repeat here, again, that in our customary forms of scholarship where we conduct research we do not regard sources of information as "informants" and certainly not as "snitches": because our goal is not prosecution, our goal is simply knowledge development in an area of criminology that deals with gang members. We also recognize that there are ways to systematically develop sources of information, but our information is never used for such official investigatory or prosecution purposes. We do recognize, obviously, that in the case of Prince we are dealing with such a person. The politically correct reference would be to call Prince an intelligence asset, but most would use the more informal term of "snitch" or "informant". What we discovered in trying to use the "snowball technique" and transition from the Prince to other sources of gang information in same "snitch farm", was that a culture existed within this group where the highest value was placed on who got the most visits from the more powerful agencies (DEA, FBI, intelligence units, etc,). That is, the pecking order in this facility placed the highest status on the person who had the most valuable information. Our source Prince was independently verified as clearly being at the top of this unique type of social pyramid. There is no doubt that Prince was given extra and special rewards and benefits.
The Prince has been, and continues to be, a source of information for the National Gang Crime Research Center for several years now. Our journal did in fact publish a "Shout Out" from him, regarding his views on gangs. His current most important project is to get his own book published to add a non-apologetic dimension to the new genre of books by gang members themselves.
One reason, Prince informed us, why little may be known about the financial aspects of gang life is that this is a sub rosa and secret activity. Many gangs, do however, have "dues" requirements:
"Every member has to pay a certain amount,say $5.00, and in the Latin Kings a treasurer will go around to the chapters to collect the dues. It is always kept balanced, so if somebody goes out and takes care of business, he is supposed to be provided with bond money and a lawyer (they keep lawyers on retainer),the guys at the top have certain crews in each chapter that sell drugs directly for them...the sellers they get a percentage of everything they sell...and then of course they are allowed to make their own money also...but whatever they sell for the organization the profits end up in the hands of the guys at the top...the council I sat on...a lot of this structure still remains the same....except we branched out to some new cities...and the money is coming in everyday seven days a week. It is always wise to....a lot of it is spent, it is a risky business, you might as well enjoy what you can make while you've got it. Its a big thing to have a nice ride. They spend $19 thousand dollars on the car and spend another $10 thousand dollars on toys: stereos, car phone, etc. We had a couple of those, with door panels secretly fitted, if the car was going to hold 5 keys of cocaine, if they got pulled over , five oh (the police) would not have a clue as to where to look. When we would go do drops or pickups we always had a chase car, 4 guys armed to the teeth just in case something happened they would be right there, a security measure so to speak."
"The only way a lot of these guys can hide their finances you can never put anything under your name, it has to be a third party....i had a relative who heavily involved in real estate....we let him handle a lot of our finances....we always kept bank accounts under fictitious and false names...I don't know how they are doing it...but the bankers we dealt with, they never question it..."
" The people they are dealing with, they have their own way of getting around modern banking regulations..."
"The first very large sum of cash I saw at one time while in the Latin Kings was one I saw for about two bills....that's two million dollars...later I learned that was small. it was split up 8 different ways...the ones that had their investments in it...it was counted out...and split up...no big thing..." "Trying to pass laws against gangs that exist because there is money in it is like trying to outlaw ice cream....what people want they are going to get...whether its bud (reefer, marijuana, etc)...or harder drugs....Al Capone taught us that. There is always going to be somebody else to step in...you can't put the gang out of a business that has faces no regulations....the boys might be arrested....but the business will go on. Gang business is pure business...no regulations other than what it agrees to, just the opposition or competition to worry about."
Regarding drug sellers for the Latin Kings: "a lot of em were exploited...we treated a lot of ours good though...they made 20 cents on the dollar...the other 80 percent was split upstairs...we made sure they had the props...we set them up in apartments so they did not have to work on the streets...I was given the responsibility to oversee our operations in 5 states...all some of the outlying groups were lacking was product which we quickly provided them with....the territories in question were virgin territories, and were considered neutral turf, but other organizations did exist there and when they learned what we were doing...they wanted a piece of the action and they wanted a war if they did not get a piece....I went out there to start a business, I had a sit down with the heads of these other organizations, let them know the product being sold is being sold to you guys and not their customers, we are doing this on neutral ground, we starting selling them products at lower prices and a higher quality than they could not get elsewhere...they eventually ended up becoming our allies...which had the effect of strengthening our own network..."
About gang economics behind bars: "When I flipped.... a guy in (the prison) was holding some of my money and would not give it to me because I was in seg (i.e., segregation) waiting for transfer...it was $3800 bucks...he had it hid in his tv....I asked the warden if they could collect it for me...and they sort of agreed if I would tell them where the money was hidden...I told them, but they burned me....they gave me a bogus move...they gave me a hundred bucks as like a little reward for the tip....the warden said it was all dirty money....we can't prove it was yours...we'll give you a hundred bucks...we'll put the rest in the inmate fund...."
A LOOK INSIDE THE FINANCIAL RECORDS OF A MAJOR CHICAGO GANG
The present researchers had access to what must be regarded as very sensitive documents already in the hands of law enforcement agencies, because we obtained this information again from the gang member involved who had "flipped" and turned this same information over to law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting members of the same gang. Appendix C contains the exact transcripts of this information that were as accurate as we could transcribe them. These are hand-written documents, not typed original source documents that are laboriously transcribed in Appendix C. We have intentionally omitted certain specific information about addresses and full names and telephone or other numbers relating to the same internal record information.
The information being referred to in Appendix C is therefore very genuine and reflects the detailed membership, dues, internal structural change, and expenses associated with one Chicago chapter of a major gang we call the Ethnic Rulers, a pseudonym for a gang name that begins with an ethnic identifier and where the second word is an expression of power. There are many such chapters or sets, which exist non-contiguously not only within the City of Chicago, but the entire Chicago metropolitan area extending deep into the midwestern United States. This group, for reasons called here the Ethnic Rulers, are represented in many states today.
The "data" here therefore consists of actual genuine documents maintained by the gang as its official records. We have included only a transcription of a six month period of activity during 1990 for the purposes of illustrating some issues about the economic functions of gangs. We feel that a short analysis of these documents in Appendix C provide the basis for discussing the legitimacy of some hitherto unexplored aspects about gang economics.
About this "data", it was in handwritten form, transcribed literally in Appendix C for purposes of cross-reference here. Here are some of the trends in this data:
*** Associates of the gang, whose names appear in records, do later become full gang members.
*** A very democratic process operates in voting for sanctions and for promotions in rank.
*** A frequent activity of the gang is order maintenance: sanctioning its own members for infractions and not meeting financial obligations.
*** Such sanctions typically are "violations" or monetary fines. The violations are beatings from up to four members of the gang lasting specific time limits: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, etc. The fines sometimes involve situations where the individual gang member may lose a gun owned by the gang, that is a gun purchased from its treasury money (i.e., paying a $50.00 fine for losing a $150.00 pistol).
*** The gang does seem to benefit from the underground economy in having opportunities over time to purchase firearms at reasonable prices. This type of gang is a rational, calculating, and self-supporting enterprise is the image that emerges from the data in Appendix C. It has costs for maintaining its operations, it collects dues, and keeps accurate account of its gang treasury money, its income sources over time and its expenditures over time.
*** The gang does spend its treasury money on guns, gang clothing, spray paint to "fix the hood", and in what appears to be a structured general welfare benefit program to its needy or incarcerated members.
*** The gang has this general welfare benefit character by being able to provide money to its needy members in or outside of jail/prison. The gang does in this sense function as an economic benevolent society for its members in a small but very symbolic way.
*** The gang becomes politically correct in voting to have "non-smoking" meetings, and then sanctions several members for subsequently smoking behavior. Violations are also given for being late to, or missing, required meetings. The required weekly meetings are held promptly and neatly organized as any formal or voluntary organization might behave. The notes and ledgers are also meticulously maintained by the gang secretary. Where this type of organizational meeting differs from others that might be held in the same neighborhood (religious or political meetings, community groups, advisory groups, etc), is that internal control can be achieved by the use of violence against detractors to organizational effectiveness.
*** The gang spends money on parties, and does maintain a relationship to the larger Nation (other chapters or sets, i.e., attending the yearly gang picnic, having other chapter gang members visit their own meetings, etc).
*** All of the gang income to the treasury is dues money. The gang is steadfast about requirements for paying regular dues. It even passes new laws to punish deadbeats.
*** The amount of cash in the treasury varies over this six month period from a low of $1.00 to a high of $437.00 at any one particular time during this period. And averaged about $200 during the six month period.
*** Typical expenses included in this gang's ledgers included: (1) the purchase of guns ($75.00/357 revolver; $70.00/22 revolver; $150.00/32 pistol; $250.00/9mm pistol), (2) payments to incarcerated members as direct payments of cash ($192.00) in small increments to several different members, and (3) miscellaneous operating expenses (spray paint, gang t-shirts, etc $277.00).
*** The gang spends an inordinate amount of time with internal conflicts and with disciplining its members. Cohesion, compliance, and conformity are maintained through the use of violence by the gang against its own members.
*** These findings are based on the written minutes of weekly punctual gang meetings over a six month period, and suggest clearly the importance of understanding the gang in terms of its internal friction in relationship to its own fiscal solvency. This type of level three formal organization gang does have regular meetings, and does require dues to be paid regularly from its members. Apparently, there is another side about gang life in America that has not emerged in anthropological studies of younger gang members who may not be at all knowledgeable of this larger picture. "Shorties" or "Peewees" as associates of a real gang might be easily approached by such anthropological techniques, but these type of data sources are the least likely to actually be knowledgeable about the larger financial and economic issues of gang life today. Someone who pays dues, is someone who might be privy to the kind of economic functions that gangs may have today. A peewee or very young wannabe or associate may not be required to pay dues because they are not considered genuine or official members of the gang, and therefore will never be attending regular gang meetings to discuss "Nation business".
We realized that because economic side of gang life is a secret activity and one least likely to be revealed by younger gang members who may not know about it, or by older members who might prefer to keep this a secret, that the only way it would be possible to get an accurate assessment of the economic life in modern American gangs is to carry out a very large scale multi-site, multi-state survey of gang members. It was for this reason, a common interest among a group of researchers in beginning to unravel this criminological mystery, that the Project GANGECON Task Force was formed.
We also realized we needed to think out and plan out well in advance the structure of our analytical inquiry so as to be able to have controls and precautions in place to truly be able to penetrate the truth in the context where little is known because of the secrecy of this aspect of gang life today. Thus, we took advantage of what we know about gang members and their personalities. We did not approach them with the attitude "here is a chance for you to do right and snitch", we approached them with a generalized intellectual focus where we were in the situation of not knowing anything about gang economics, and simply afforded them the opportunity to describe the non-stigmatizable and sometimes prosocial aspects about their gang rather than snitch about its inside secrets.
In other words, we asked them to describe any legitimate business enterprises their gang might control or own or engage in. In this fashion, it was not surprising to find members of the Gangster Disciples in response to the question "Does the gang you belong to have any legitimate businesses it operates? If yes, what kind of business establishments are these (Describe):" answer as follows in our survey: "21st Century V.O.T.E." --- the new political arm of the Gangster Disciples which is sponsoring a candidate for the Alderman in one ward election in Chicago in the 1995 city council elections.
SECTION II: METHODOLOGY
This section of the report describes how the research was conducted, the pretesting of the instrument, validity, and reliability issues.
FORMATION OF THE PROJECT GANGECON TASK FORCE
The Project GANGECON research task force was formed in 1994 and involved invitations to a number of gang researchers and experts to pledge their support and labor in a unique knowledge development project. It was agreed in advance that this would have to be an unfunded type of research, because in the current overall state-of-the-art gang research the economic side of gang life was not a focus of any government agency or foundation funding source that we could identify. This aspect of gang life has not, in other words, been a research priority area for funding source. It was agreed that to really understand the multifaceted nature of gang life itself, that multiple social contexts would have to be studied (i.e., schools, jails, juvenile facilities, programs, etc). It was agreed that in addition to being a research project, that this would also be a probono service project as well: specifically, that we would provide a detailed "site report" reflecting a complete analysis of all data to each and every site that cooperates with our research efforts. The objective of these "site reports" was to provide useful rapid feedback describing trends and important findings about the site population. The site populations included schools, jails, juvenile correctional facilities, etc.
It was also agreed that to be able to speak effectively to the economic issues of gang life today that a very large national sample would be needed. It was agreed by the Project GANGECON research task force members that this study would have as its goal the inclusion of at least one thousand (N = 1,000) self-reported gang members in various parts of the United States.
In this type of large scale research there would be hard costs that could not be avoided: travel, lodging, photoduplication, honorariums to the respondents, etc. It was agreed by Task Force researchers that any individual expenses in travel and per diem and time would be donated to this project, that is the researcher would basically pay his or her own way to the extent they were able to do so. No one was to be paid any salary for work. Thus, all time devoted to this project was not reimbursed in any sense. Further, only hard expenses spent on the respondents, involving honorariums (cookies, potatoe chips, etc) would be expenses that the Task Force would collectively agree to share in a equal fashion.
It is difficult to estimate the amount of labor and effort that went into this project, but is was obviously extensive. We benefited from some financial assistance in only one of the data collection sites during the course of this research, that is Chicago State University in its support of the National Gang Crime Research Center funded the travel and expenses to collect data in California. Of course, the researchers in their capacities as educators were able to use some small resources involving photoduplication from their respective universities. Outside of this limited assistance, no federal, state, or other government or private foundation support existed for this project. It was, in short, a research team designed to accomplish a goal as an end in itself: not for compensation, but because it needed to be done.
SAMPLING GANG MEMBERS IN MULTIPLE SOCIAL CONTEXTS
One of the goals of the Project GANGECON research task force was to ensure that gang members were studied in a variety of social contexts. The universe became easy to define when we asked the general question: where could we most likely find some gang members today? The first answer was: custody, those in jail, etc. The second answer was schools and the community. Thus, at an early stage in the research process various social contexts were identified, contacted, and persuaded to cooperate with our research mission.
The types of social contexts used in the Project GANGECON task force research therefore consists of the following:
(1) An alternative high school in the midwest,
(2) Juvenile correctional facilities in the midwest and west (California, Michigan, and Ohio),
(3) Jails in Illinois and Iowa,
(4) Community-based programs serving youths in Illinois,
and (5) and a private day jail program as well as a courtroom lockup setting.
ITEM DEVELOPMENT AND PRETESTING THE SURVEY INSTRUMENT
All members of the Project GANGECON research task force at an early stage in the research process developed specific hypotheses they would explore and test. This mean that every researcher developed and submitted specific questions or items to be included in the survey instrument. These questions were distributed for review, critiqued, revised and then finally tested in a pretest of the finalized survey instrument.
The pretesting of the instrument was conducted on an education-development challenged group of special education students. Sometimes called "reluctant readers" or "slower learners" and similar names, it basically means young teenagers who are performing well below their age-grade norm, enough so to attract specialized services in the realm of public education. A member of the research task force was present for this pretesting, made observations, and had a debriefing of the respondents (i.e., asking them to report questions they did not understand, words they did not understand, phrases they did not understand, etc). Through this process the survey instrument was further modified to make necessary changes identified from the pretesting. Actually very few changes had to be made. The pretest sample was known in advance to contain gang members. We expected that there would be some respondents who would not know about some of the detailed issues of gang life: any non-gang member would not be privy to the socialization and training afforded by a gang (i.e., learning its language or subcultural argot, its rules, its code, etc).
After the survey instrument was field tested, we felt comfortable as described in the section on validity below that the instrument was capable of measuring what it sought to measure.
SAMPLING OVER 1,000 GANG MEMBERS
The type of research that samples only from schools, or only from official sources (i.e., correctional facilities), is limited in its ability to capture gang members where they can really be found: on the street, not just in custody. Our research strategy was one that therefore focused on a variety of social contexts in order to obtain a sample of over 1,000 gang members. Figure 1 below shows the type of social context by the sample size of gang members from these sites in five states.
TYPE OF SOCIAL CONTEXT BY SIZE OF GANG SAMPLE
State and Social Context Gang Sample Size
Juvenile Correctional Facility 82
Juvenile Correctional Facility 50
Juvenile Correctional Facility 268
Alternative Public High School 118
Day Jail Program 84
Smaller County Jail 23
Probation Caseload 28
Larger County Jail 178
Community Gang Intervention Program 50
Court Lock-up 19
Juvenile Correctional Facility 61
County Jail 34
County Jail 20
TOTAL 1,015 gang members
In all contexts other than the one megajail or large county jail in Illinois, a saturation sampling technique was sought. This meant everyone in the social context was asked to participate in the research. Sometimes incentives were used, and this meant upwards of 90 percent of the populations in these contexts cooperating. Our sample of over 1,000 gang members therefore includes youths and adults, those in custody, and those not in custody.
INTERNAL CONTROLS ON DATA QUALITY
A number of precautions and safeguards were undertaken during the survey process to ensure the highest possible quality
in the data collected.
1. Covert Observation. During the actual collection of data at some sites there was the opportunity for cover observation. This involved several of the jail sites where it was possible to watch the inmates completing the questionnaires on closed circuit television or through observation areas. Thus,in some jail sites it was possible for the researchers to hand out pencils and surveys and then in a control room watch the inmate behavior in their cell areas on the security video monitors. In no case did we see collaboration or any systematic tampering (i.e., one inmate filling out more than one questionnaire). There was no evidence of any collective fraud on the part of inmates in completing the questionnaires. As in other settings, this was presented as a "very personal" survey. Almost all inmates and others surveyed in other sites were remarkably cooperative. In school sites, for example, there was always at least one research assistant present at all times inside each classroom while the questionnaires were being filled out.
2. Overt Observation. Overt observation was the rule of thumb in all sites, as one or more of the principal researchers were on hand at all sites to watch and observe the process of data collection. This also afforded the opportunity of introducing another methodological safeguard to evaluate the quality of our data collection. Gender is a specific forced-choice item on the questionnaire, but it was also a variable coded during overt observation immediately after collecting the questionnaires. In all the jails, in the west coast site, and in Chicago sites, we took an additional overt observation precaution during the data collection process. This entailed physically marking all of the physical source documents with a code for gender. Thus, all male and female respondents could then be assessed in terms of attempts at deception with regard to gender. This code assigned by the researchers as an observation taken during a close social contact (i.e., collecting the survey instruments one at a time) was then able to be compared with the respondents forced-choice response. A random response pattern or a fraudulent response pattern could possible be evident in a case where the overt observation of gender did not match with the self-reported gender in the response to the question inside the survey about gender. Our analysis revealed that in no instance, in any of these sites, did any respondent lie about gender.
3. Zero Tolerance for Data Entry or Transcription Errors. All survey data stored electronically for purposes of computerized statistical analysis were cross-checked against source documents (i.e., the survey instruments). The data was checked and re-checked and contains no validity threat from transcription errors in the data reduction process. No students were used for data entry. All data entry was performed by a statistical typist with a post-graduate degree.
4. Few Unusable Survey Instruments Detected. In most of the sites and social contexts used for data collection, a saturation sampling method was used: everyone in the site was asked to complete the questionnaire. Small honorariums were used in some of the sites, and in these sites we would could casually check the surveys to ensure they were fully completed before giving out the honorariums. In very few instances were unusable questionnaires returned. This is far less than one percent and typically involved someone who would check every response to every question, or some similar non-sensical way of showing non-cooperation. This was a voluntary action to participate in the research, and for the most part a very large majority of the persons at all sites participated and provided high cooperation. There was somewhat, but not overwhelming, more hostile non-cooperation among jail inmates. However, we got the distinct impression that most inmates were highly motivated to complete the questionnaires, in one sense because this provided an interesting distraction from the boredom of routine jail activity. In only rare instances, then, did we obtain "tainted" survey instruments: those what were obviously fraudulently completed, or not capable of being interpreted, that is for the most part non-cooperative. Thus, no tainted data is included in our analysis because these very few cases where the respondent was less than cooperative their survey instruments were discarded.
5. An Acceptable Level of Trust Was Established.
While our approach was essentially the same with everyone regardless of the social context, in the jail and secure contexts extra efforts were made to provide an adequate introduction and explanation to the respondents. Four of the researchers were typically on hand in most jails surveyed, where they approached each cell-house area and explained in detail the purpose of the survey research. Outside of Chicago, much small chit chat and friendly discussion often ensued when we introduced ourselves as professors, several of whom were from Chicago.
In the correctional settings, it was not uncommon for joking comments to be heard from the respondents about criminal justice officials, or critical comments towards the criminal justice system generally. Friendly dialogue was common in all social contexts, because the researchers often took time after the survey to answer verbal inquiries, and listen to concerns and issues of the respondents. While the survey asks for no name, and its printed title is ANONYMOUS NATIONAL STUDENT SURVEY, and while we explained verbally that we did not want their names because this was a very personal type of questionnaire; it was not uncommon in some instances for respondents to still write-in their names and provide other unsolicited information. Several offered to become paid informants, or desired personal interviews such as this respondent (#932): "I can be more helpful, ask for Pac-Maniac on 2N3. For a small fee I can tell you anything plus more you need to know! The message above is only valid til this Tuesday at 5 PM!".
In the school settings and non-correctional settings, research assistants were always on hand in each room or area, and to ensure the privacy of the responses the respondents were told that their teacher or program supervisor would never actually see or touch the surveys. Thus, we collected all surveys directly from the respondents in and out of the correctional settings.
We feel on the basis of the above procedures respectful of the respondents in their social settings regarding the privacy of their responses, and based on our observations of the process of data collection, that a sufficient level of trust was established with respondents to get relatively honest answers.
We have only one caveat that all criminological researchers should be recognizing themselves: offenders have the tendency to over-report their positive attributes and under-report their stigmatizable attributes. Regardless of social context this tendency operates in all areas of research on real offenders, and gang offenders are no different. We also recognize, and this tendency works to our methodological advantage, that offenders are more likely to honestly report the deviance of their friends and associates than their own deviance. Thus, many of the questions or focal areas of our research ask them about "others", i.e., their gang.
6. High Cognition on the Meaning of the Survey Items Implies Clearly We Are Measuring What We Purport To Measure. A large number of respondents, across social contexts but particularly those in custody, had the tendency to write notes and memoranda style comments in the margins of the survey instrument on a variety of issues. These are highly emotive comments implying clear cognition of the true meaning of the survey items or questions. Several examples of this kind of "running" commentary and shared written communication from respondents is helpful to review here to illustrate our assumption regarding this aspect of the strength of our methodology.
One respondent (Case # 923) explained in response to the question what gang organization did you join: "old school GD then at 16 flip floped to Vice Lord". The respondent went on to correctly note his current gang affiliation as "People", but was energized to cross out the names of "Folks", "Crips", and "Bloods" and to add in his own writing their respective names of derision "Donuts", "Crabs", and "Slobs". Some would draw their gang symbols inside the survey instrument.
Not one survey respondent returned the survey instrument and claimed not to understand the questions. Not one written comment indicated a lack of understanding of the meaning of the question. These were, after all, very concrete questions.
7. Built-in "Lie Tests". In the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) full form of 566 true or false questions, a "lie scale" exists by being able to compare responses to a question early in the form with a similar question latter in the form. When someone intentionally engages in deceit, they often forget what they lied about before. Thus, it is possible to identify clear inconsistencies in this way.
Similar provisions were adopted for the present research methodology by building in such "lie tests" or tests of inconsistency into the survey instrument questions. Thus, like the MMPI once scored, our present survey instrument once analyzed provides the basis for identifying deceptive response patterns --- those that are clearly inconsistent or suggestive of deceptive responses.
The first test is one where we could capture any respondent who was paranoid enough to lie about present age and age at time of first arrest. Item 12 on page 1 of the survey instrument asks "At what age were you FIRST arrested for any crime? When I was______years old". Item 66 on page 6 of the survey instrument asks "How old are you today? I am _____ years old." A respondent who would engage in early intentional deceit in a response pattern to the survey instrument could therefore be detected by comparing these two items. Deceitful responses would be evident whenever the value of item 12 exceeded the value of item 66. A simple computer check allowed for directly testing for this type of systematic deception. In other words, a deceptive respondent might give the age of 20 for age at time of first arrest and give the age of 17 for current age later in the item order of the survey instrument. The results of this test were no detected deception of this blatant nature.
In the second test, a series of three separate questions are used. Question # 70 on page 6 is used as the control item ("Do you have family members who are gang members? __Yes __No") for examining two additional and more specific questions on page 8 of the survey: #106 "Do you have brothers or sisters from your family that belong to your same gang? __Yes __No", and # 107 "Do you have brothers or sisters from your family that belong to rival gangs? __Yes __No". Obviously, the test here is for someone who in quetion 70 claims they do or do not have family members who are also gang members in relationship to subsequent questions about family members who may belong to the same gang or to a rival gang. Similarly, as we planned in advance in this research project to sample youths inside juvenile correctional institutions we afforded the respondents another opportunity to lie by including a specific question to this effect: "Have you ever served time in a juvenile correctional institution". Thus, we can detect deception here by examining responses to this specific question inside a social context where obviously, we know in advance the answer to this question. We can also examine age-graded crime patterns as another validity test: some crime patterns, such as using a motel or hotel room out of which to sell drugs, are expected to vary by age simply because adults are better able than underage juveniles to be able to get access to this opportunity. In regard to this factor, then we would hypothesize a lower rate of using hotel rooms for drug sales among the juvenile contexts (i.e., respondents from juvenile correctional centers, etc) for this research.
Let us examine these other two built-in lie tests now.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF GANG MEMBERS
HAVING FAMILY MEMBERS WHO ARE GANG MEMBERS
BY SIBLINGS IN SAME OR RIVAL GANGS
Do you have brothers or sisters
from your family that belong to
Do you have family your same gang?
members who are NO YES
gang members? NO 164 22
YES 319 293
Chi-square = 77.5, p < .001
Do you have brothers or sisters
from your family that belong to
Do you have family rival gangs?
members who are NO YES
gang members? NO 167 17
YES 399 208
Chi-square = 43.4, p < .001
In Table 1, we see that there are 22 gang members who reported that they do not have family members who are gang members, but that they did have brothers or sisters from their family that belonged to the same gang. We did see narrative remarks on the surveys about how "Pops" or dad was a gang member, thus family members other than brothers or sisters is probably what this small deviation refers to. Generally, however, there is remarkable and significant logical fit in this data. Thus, very few cases (N=22, or .027%) here fit the deception pattern where the respondent gang member reports no family members in the gang but who in another question reports siblings as gang members.
The second test in Table 1 looks at those gang members who claim no family members are in a gang, but who also report having siblings in a rival gang. Here we find only 17 cases out of the 791 for which data are available for these two variables. Thus only .02 percent of the gang members in the sample appear to show the deception pattern. Thus, in both tests, deceptive or inconsistent answers are very rare indeed.
In short, much attention in this research during the instrumentation phase was paid to the matter of structuring a variety of opportunities for the respondent to be deceptive or deceitful in a way that could be easily detected by data analysis. We know it is not customary for researchers when investigating such offender populations as included in the present research to do this, but we did feel that it was necessary to speak to this issue in as much as this was a large scale investigation involving an assortment of known offender groups.
OTHER ISSUES OF VALIDITY
As previously alluded to much attention to detail and many precautions were undertaken during the research process that were designed to enhance validity by protecting against threats to validity. These protective measures used will be described here. We conclude that the validity of the research reported here is higher than average for social research of the type conducted here.
We begin by recognizing that generally in social research, and all criminal justice or criminological research, that the term validity is defined as the extent to which the researchers have measured what they purport to measure. Therefore, the ultimate assessment of validity goes directly to the issue of whether or not the survey instrument captures and effectively differentiates the population at-risk to gangs, whether it can effectively identify subgroupings within the gang population (i.,e., specific gangs), and whether the questions about gang life, economic issues, and other related factors or variables really measure what they say they measure. We further note that the ambiguity in language in the survey instrument was reduced during a field or pretest of the survey instrument. We further note that there were few who did not understand the questions in the survey that they were predicted to understand.
Obviously, we did not assume that non-gang members would understand much about the detailed dynamics of the economic infrastructure and financial aspects of gang life. We did, however, predict that gang members would both understand the meaning of such questions and be able to report their experience and beliefs about these specific aspects of gang life. We therefore report that in terms of the construct validity of the survey instrument itself, a copy of which is provided in Appendix A, that gang members clearly did understand and had little difficulty in providing responses to the nearly 200 variables in the survey instrument.
The validity issue of the length of the survey is a moot issue we feel. Our survey instrument is long, but generally can be completed in about 30 minutes by most respondents. The structure of the social settings in which the data was collected were such that no "pressure" existed to rapidly complete the questionnaires. The respondents in all social contexts had more time available to them than was needed for the actual completing of the anonymous questionnaire. In school rooms, a entire hour was set aside, and few needed this much time. In other settings, such as a community program, the respondent could take as much time as needed. Thus, by the nature of the precautions taken during the implementation of the research, we rule out any fatigue or "length of survey deterioration" factor as a threat to the validity of this research.
Concurrent of criterion validity means examining a measurement in relationship to some other variable it should be highly predictive of. The most important aspect of the current research was defining who was or who was not a gang member. The way in which validity controls were implemented in the present research design therefore asked different versions of the same question for several variables. This also meant being able to induce much quality control: for example, making sure that someone who in one question reports they have ever joined a gang, and who in another variable indicates the exact name of the gang in an open-ended "fill in the blank" type of question (i.e., "What gang did or do you belong to?_______________), and who then indicates the type of alliance or nation status. Thus, any "Gangster Disciple" would in our sample have to also indicate a membership in the "Folks" nation. We found very little discrepancy between such variables, and therefore believe that our basic measures that differentiate gang members and non-gang members are very accurate. These are also, for the most part, "brand name" gangs: gangs common to the social contexts from which they were sampled (Crips, Bloods, and Sureno sets on the west coast, etc). One of the ways in which we were able to use a "criterion" validity approach was our access to probably the best and most current national directory of gangs in America today --- the National Geographic Guide to Gangs in the United States. This is a large computer file maintained by the National Gang Crime Research Center, it is updated from numerous sources (law enforcement, corrections, etc) every year and has monitored the gang proliferation problem for five years in a row. For a sample listing of this information useful in validating gang names for gang members, see the companion volume to An Introduction to Gangs (3rd and expanded edition, 1995): National Gang Resource Handbook: An Encyclopedic Reference (1995, Bristol, Indiana: Wyndham Hall Press). Thus, official sources providing names of numerous gangs in America were used to cross-check the self-disclosed data from respondents in the present research. As the analysis will reveal, the gang members in the present study are for the most part very well known gangs. Thus, for our most important variable of focus (gang membership), we were able to ascertain the validity of the self-reported gang membership by examining it in relationship to another of other validity control items (name of gang, gang nation alliance, type of rank held in the gang, etc). We did not encounter any cases that were impostors: only a gang member in such a gang would know the type of leadership positions in its unique hierarchy.
The present research can rule out a threat to the internal validity of the design based on history. The reason this is true is that all the data was collected in a short period of time during 1994 (November, 1994 to January, 1995) covering a three month period. The hidden benefit of not being a federally funded type of research project is that also there were few if any obstructions to the research process, and that the results could be reported in a relatively short time frame as well. Thus, the findings are very much reflective of the current social reality (i.e., we did not have to wait a couple years to report our findings). For the same reasons, maturation was not a threat to the validity of our research design, because as stated all data collected occurred in a short period of time nationally (a three month period) in all sites, sometimes simultaneously.
The issue of testing as a threat to validity is common to all surveys on known offenders and all self-report surveys. Completing surveys in some of the contexts was a common expectation, particularly among students and youths in juvenile correctional settings. Even the jail inmates had much experience in completing such questionnaires and "surveys". A number of precautions were taken to ensure the validity of the research design by always having researchers on-site during all data collection, typically several members of the larger team were present to assist with data collection. Mostly this involved explaining to the potential respondents that this was a completely anonymous survey, it did ask very personal questions, and that was the reason we did not want anyone's name, and that the "we" consisted of: university professors.
Wherever possible we tried to off-set the disruptiveness of having unknown persons intruding on their social contexts distributing surveys and pencils by offering some type of consumable amenity as a small reward or honorarium for completing the questionnaire. Thus, in most contexts this was viewed as a pleasant distraction. For these and other reasons discussed in the report we do not feel that testing was a major threat to the validity of the present research.
As discussed above as well, the pretesting or field testing of the survey instrument was designed to eliminate any ambiguity in words, phraseology, expressions, and writing. These are forced-choice questions that are not double-barrelled questions, they are pinpointed to specific issues or measurements of background and behavioral experience, beliefs, and attitudes. We posit that the validity of the present study is therefore acceptable for studies of its kind regarding any threat to validity from instrumentation. Another reason that we can rule out instrumentation as a major threat to the validity of our research is that a number of our variables are direct replications of previous research found to be acceptable and reported in the literature --- as is discussed at appropriate points in this report, where such literature is specifically cited.
One of the strengths of the present research regarding validity is how we overcame the potential threat to validity from differential selection of subjects. In gang research, as is common in criminal justice and criminological research on offenders generally, the common situation is to have only one social context to study the human aspect of interest. In the present research, as explained earlier, the plan in advance was to develop and use multiple social contexts for purpose of data collection. Thus, gang members were not just studied in the school context, they were studied in all social contexts where we could reasonably assume we could find them: in adult correctional settings, in juvenile correctional settings, in community programs, in probation caseloads, and of course in the school context. Further, the geographic representation of the sample was intended to be able to examine variations across a large span of the United States: including data collection sites in California, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio. Therefore in a comparative assessment our present research is stronger than most in this regard to taking precautionary measures to ensure that the threat to validity in terms of differential selection of subjects included a broad cross-section (i.e., across different social contexts) and geographical spectrum. Our analysis can therefore speak to issues of comparison not capable in much previous gang research (i.e., comparing west coast Crips/Bloods with midwest People/Folks, etc).
The issue of mortality for validity is of minimal concern to the present study and is therefore not a major threat. This was, after all, a "snapshot" survey design: we only sought out a cross-section of data; this was a multi-state multi-context cross-sectional survey research design. It was not intended to be a longitudinal design, with follow-up measurements. The only way in which mortality might therefore negatively impair on the research design would be if our sampling was limited to only one type of social context, or if we only used one site for each type of social context. The fact is we used multiple social contexts and for some of these (i.e., jails, juvenile correctional facilities) we used multiple sites within these social contexts as well. Thus, if someone "missed out" from such a site, chances are this is minimal in terms of not being able to capture the social reality of these social contexts. After all, within the specific social context sites, the research plan called for a "saturation" sampling method: everyone in the jail, the school, the program, etc, was asked to complete the questionnaire. Very few persons refused to complete the questionnaire. We tried to structure our data collection in correctional settings where we did not interfere with court calls or visiting, thus we often had to be at the jail late at night on some occasions, and almost always on the weekends, requiring travel and overnight stays in various cities for some of the researchers. Through previous research experience the researchers knew how to structure the data collection process to be as minimally disruptive to the security and other concerns of correctional facilities. We do know that with a long survey instrument such as that used in the present research project that there may be "item mortality", this is not a matter of "attention deficit disorders", it is a matter of simply losing the respondent at some later point in the survey instrument, thus resulting in some cases missing data for those items towards the end of the survey instrument. The present research is, therefore, not unlike other similar survey research designs in having the common problem of some missing data on the many variables measured.
Finally, the issue of regression as a threat to validity is viewed as minimal in the present research and not a major threat. Measurement error was not a major problem, given the fact that among gang members our variables designed to elicit the nature of their economic experiences in and associated with gang life were questions or items or variables that are both replicable and having little if any ambiguity. No cognitive bias exists in this regard to the variables used in the research. We did not simply include extreme cases: such as those highly cooperative youths on a street corner who might suddenly become very interested in a research project when a person of higher social class and social power arrives on the scene to offer aid and assistance --- material and psychic benefits in nature. The fact is our gang analysis covers the complete gang risk continuum as the analysis will reveal.
The gang member respondent was particularly prone to write lengthy and unsolicited comments in the margins of the surveys. This highly affective arousal signaled clearly that the respondents understood all too well the meaning of the questions. Sometimes this running commentary of unsolicited remarks directed feedback to the researchers in various ways, explaining subtle nuances, some of which will be discussed in this report at appropriate points in the presentation of results. At other times some fun was poked at the researchers, as where a self-reported gang member in response to question # 80 ("Would you be willing to testify in a secret Grand Jury against a gang leader for $1,000 cash?") remarked "you done lost your mind", and then in response to the next question (#81, "Would you be willing to testify in open court against a gang leader for $5,000 and witness protection services?") remarked in the same vein "you still ain't found your mind yet", obviously where the respondent answered "no" to both questions, but wanted to interject some emotive commentary as well. These were questions that gang members clearly understood, enough so that often such members would strike up conversations and seek out attention from the researchers at almost all the sites. The typical gang member respondent was very curious that anyone would ask such specific questions about gang life today. Thus, it was not uncommon for the researchers to stay around the site for additional time spent answering direct questions from the youths, this was particularly true in the juvenile correctional setting.
To recap, in many of the common threats to the internal validity of research such as that reported here (history, maturation, testing, instrumentation, differential selection of subjects, experimental mortality, statistical regression), the precautions taken in the research design, the scope and extent of the research effort (i.e., covering several states, different social contexts, and a large sample), render these threats to be viewed as minimal.
The issue of reliability is the matter of the "quality" of the data. The informed reader will recognize that the term reliability in research means basically "do we get the same results with repeated measures". Over time it is possible, indeed probable, that "gang life" and the gang problem itself can, could and might change. For example, the gang problem has expanded and proliferated in recent years in the United States. In another sense, the meaning of reliability in the type of social research conducted here often means "would different researchers going to the same places using the same questions get the same results". We argue, by the nature of the methodological rigor and level of effort in the present research design, that this would in fact be the case to a high degree. In other words, when we issue what are called "site reports" or rapid information summaries back to the host sites that provided access for data collection, that our data truly does reflect the social reality of their environment. Most who have received these site reports agree with us in regard to the critical issues: specifically, gang density, and the scope and extent of the gang member problem in their populations.
This is not to say that the problem may not escalate or deteriorate in the years ahead. That is not the nature of our research purpose to predict the future. Rather our intent is limited to the nature of our research methodology --- a cross-sectional survey design using large samples --- of simply describing the current situation in these various social contexts. Given the rapid feedback, that is little time delay arose between time of data collection and the reporting of findings, we also argue that our research has high reliability in terms of the volatility of such data: ours was recently collected, and quickly reported. Our generalizations are to the present, not the future --- as we recognize the gang problem is a dynamic and not a static problem.
But the trained researcher will also recognize that the methodological matter of reliability is really the simple and testable issue of whether the same measurement techniques used in different research settings or at different points in time produce the same results. We can give and test an example of this aspect of reliability. Consider the question in our survey about whether the gang member would have to share loot from an independent crime. The question is a vignette or scenario question and reads as follows: "If you were alone and while burglarizing a house you were able to steal $10,000 dollars, would you be expected to give some of this money to your gang if they found out you had that much money?".
Our case study notes on this question revealed a more common reaction was the individual gang member was considered an independent contractor and operator in his personal pursuits. Or alternatively, as long as it was an offense that happened outside of the turf area controlled by the gang, it was not an a custom to have to pay any portion of the crime scene proceeds to the gang. "You do what you have to do", seemed to be a common explanation.
However, if this measurement is lacking in the area of reliability this would come out if multiple sites were chosen to assess this aspect of sharing illicit economic gains with the gang. That is, the hypothesis of logical inference is that in the same city, among the same gangs, there should be no difference in this factor if we asked the same question in different social settings. Indeed, social settings that are indeed mutually exclusive: that is, one could not exist or be found in both simultaneously. For example, one could not exist in a regular public high school population and also exist in a day jail pretrial program.
It is important to note the subtle social nuances of the these two types of social settings. We chose these settings very carefully for purposes of being able to ultimately have some representativeness of the universe to which we sought to generalize. Thus, the alternative high school site is kind of like a school of last resort for some students, and it is a day program during the week. One cannot exist in two places at the same time, as the day jail program operates also during the ordinary work day (9/5) and also during the weekdays. However, if one were a gang member and had come to the attention of social control agencies, one could end up in either of these two different levels of sanctions against deviance. To be in the alternative school setting one had to be at least 16 years of age; to be in the adult jail general population (and qualify for the day jail program) one would have to be 17 years of age. Students travel to the alternative high school site from all over the City of Chicago. Participants in the day jail program travel to the day jail site also from all over the City of Chicago. Obviously, one is in more trouble with the law in the day jail program than in the alternative high school setting, but the measurements on an aspect of the economic function or expectations in the same gangs in the same area should not be different just because we use different sampling frames for the same gangs. That is, just because we have different social context sites for data collection, the measurement should not be substantially different. If it is substantially different results and/or much variation does exist in the same concept measured on the same gangs among relatively equal age groups in different catchment areas of the same city, then a clear problem of reliability exists.
Our research was structured in a way to enhance both validity and reliability. Thus, in Chicago we had two such mutually exclusive sites that were identical in several important methodological respects: a public high school, and a day jail program. The same gangs existed in both sites, as detailed elsewhere in this report. Both settings contained about an equal gang density (percentage of the persons surveyed there who were self-reported gang members). Both settings also had catchment areas that were citywide: persons in these contexts could come from anywhere in the wider Chicago geographical area. Now the test: but did we get the same results in different settings, the equivalent of one research project compared with another research project? Yes, is the answer.
In the Chicago alternative high school sample with a gang density comparable to that of the day jail program we obtained almost identical results comparing expectations of giving a kickback from the $10,000 to the gang. In addition to these two sites having comparable gang density rates, they also attracted persons from all over the city. Our findings on this measure provides a test of this issue of reliability. In the alternative high school program, some 15.5 percent indicated they would be expected to give some of the $10,000 back to the gang. In the Chicago day jail program, similarly some 15.0 percent would be expected to pay some of the $10,000 back to the gang. It is premature at this point in the report to discuss the explanations for why and how this aspect of gang life occurs, as this is an aspect of much more detailed and in-depth analysis later in this report.
OTHER ISSUES OF VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY: FOR IMPROVING FUTURE RESEARCH
No replication problems materialized in the present research, as these were variables or items (i.e., survey questions) used in the prior literature. However, in some small selected instances of paving new grounds in the area of the economic life of gangs, and other factors included in some of the sites (i.e., sexual abuse, family life, etc) in this comprehensive survey, we felt that some improvements could be made in terms of the structure of such questions. These are reported as they appear in the presentation of results, and in their interpretation at relevant points in this report. We also provide suggestions for improving the validity and reliability of these measurements for purposes of future research. We recognize that there is no such thing as the "perfect" model of social research on anything, but that improvements can always be made.
The present research project was clearly an ambitious undertaking. We do, therefore, discuss ways to improve the validity and reliability of future research efforts such as that reported here. These discussions and references are made in the body of this report where relevant. Thus, we fairly and fully alert other researchers to these concerns.
We have lots of recommendations for improving research on gangs. We discuss these issues in greater detail in our conclusions section.
TYPES OF GANGS REPRESENTED IN THE SAMPLE OF OVER 1,000 GANG MEMBERS
The full list of gangs represented in this sample includes over 225 different gangs most of whom fall into the Crip, Blood, People, and Folks classification system. This sample therefore includes over 100 members of the Gangster Disciples gang in Chicago, for example. A large variety of different sets of Crips and Bloods are represented in the sample as well. The types of gangs cut across the ethnic and racial spectrum as well (white, Black, Latino, Asian). These are, for the most part, the more serious types of gangs of interest to the criminological researcher. These include gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood, and a variety of different factions of Vice Lords from the midwestern United States (Insane Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Unknown Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Traveller Vice Lords).
Motorcycle gangs, skinhead gangs like the Desmoines Area Skin Heads (DASH), white racist extremist groups (KKK, etc), and some smaller gangs are those that would not be classified in the dimensions of the following categories: People, Folks, Crips, Bloods. Most of the gangs in this sample are for the most part aligned along these four "gang nation" alliances or classification systems, with some new notable exceptions that will be discussed later (i.e., the issue of the fusion process and consolidation). See Appendix B for a complete listing of the actual coded gang names represented in this national sample of gang members.
SECTION III: Descriptive Findings For All Variables
On the Gang Member Sample (N = 1,015)
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
The purpose of this section is to provide descriptive statistical findings for all variables. The procedure here will be to present the descriptive findings in the same order as the variables appear in the survey instrument itself (See Appendix A). In the frequency and percentage distributions provided here, the entire national sample of gang members is being used (N = 1,015 gang members).
Gang Members Believe in Normal Things.
The survey asked the gang members to agree or disagree with the statement "I believe in such things as education, having a nice home, and supporting my family". Some 93.6 percent of the gang members (N = 943) agreed with this statement.
Belief in "Eye for an Eye" Justice
The survey asked the respondents to agree or disagree with the statement "the best form of justice is simply an eye for an eye". About half (54.6%, N = 538) of the gang members agreed with this concept of lex talionis. And about half (45.4%, N = 447) disagreed with this belief in "eye for an eye" justice.
Beliefs About the Legal System and Justice
The survey asked the respondent to agree or disagree with the statement "you cannot expect justice through the legal system". Two thirds of the gang members (N = 670, 68.2%) agreed with this idea that one cannot expect justice through the legal system. Just under a third (N=312, 31.8%) disagreed with the statement.
Anger Control Problems Among Gang Members
The survey asked "how often do you get really angry at someone (this means wanting to hit or hurt the person)" and the choices were: 2 or more times a day, once a day, 2-3 times a week, once a week, 2-3 times a month, once a month, and less than once a month. A third of the gang members (35.6%, N = 352) indicated they get mad enough to hurt someone two or more times a day. Another 10.7 percent (N = 106) got mad enough to want to hurt somebody once a day. Thus, some 46.4 percent or nearly half the sample (N = 458) had enough anger control problems to get made enough to want to hurt someone one or more times a day.
Another 15 percent (N = 148) got angry 2-3 times a week. Some 6.7 percent (N = 66) got angry once a week. Some 7.8 percent (N=77) got mad 2-3 times a month, and another 7.8 percent (N=77) got mad once a month. Only 16.4 percent (N = 162) indicated they got angry in this fashion of wanting to hurt someone "less than once a month".
Having Ever Paid Protection Money to a Gang
The survey asked "have you ever had to pay protection money to a gang". The vast majority of these gang members (N = 946, 93.5%) indicated "NO". Only 6.5 percent (N = 66) of the gang members indicated they had ever had to pay protection money to a gang.
For N = 47 gang members, the amount of cash paid in protection during the last year was available for analysis. The amount of the protection money paid in the last year for these 47 gang members therefore ranged from a low of one dollar to a high of $12,000 dollars. For the 47 gang members providing such information the mean or average amount paid in protection money during the last year was $693.44 dollars.
Having Ever Collected Protection Money on Behalf of the Gang
About a fifth of these gang members (n = 212, 21.2%) report having ever collected protection money on behalf of their gang. Additional information on how much money the respondent collected in protection money during the last year was available for N = 155 gang members. These 155 gang members reported collecting protection money ranging from a low of $1.50 to a high of $12,000 dollars. The mean or average amount of protection money collected for these 155 gang members was $8,696.09 dollars.
Having Ever Paid a Fine to a Gang
The survey asked "have you ever had to pay a fine to a gang". Overall, only 16.8 percent (N = 169) of the total sample of gang members reported having ever paid a fine to a gang. A follow-up question asked how much money they had paid in fines to the gang in their lifetime, and data on this variable was available for N = 119 gang members. The data on amount of money paid to the gang in fines varied from a low of $1.50 to a high of $10,000 dollars, with a mean or average of $429.41 dollars.
Employment Status of Parents
The survey asked "which best describes your father: has a regular job, or has no regular job". Most of the gang members (70.8%, N = 635) described their father as having a regular job. Still, over a fourth (29.2%, N = 262) described their father as not having a regular job.
The survey also asked in the same fashion which best describes their mother: has a regular job, or has no regular job. Most of the gang members (72.7%, N = 704) described their mother as having a regular job. Still, a fourth (27.3%, N = 264) described their mother as not having a regular job.
Feeling Shut Out of An Education or Trade Training
The survey asked "have you ever felt shut out of an education or trade training". The results were evenly divided in the gang sample: half (N = 511, 50.6%) did not feel shut out of an education or trade training. The other half did feel this type of perceived closure in education or training (N = 498, 49.4%).
Number of Prior Arrests Among Gang Members
The survey asked "how many times have you been arrested for any crime in your entire life". Someone who said "lots" or "too many time" or "I forget how many" was treated as missing data. Someone who left the question blank was also treated as missing data. Thus, arrest data is available for N = 944 of the gang members. The number of arrests ranges from a low of zero to a high of 100. Only 4.3 percent (N = 41) reported zero prior arrests. In fact 57.8 percent had four or more prior arrests. The mean number of prior arrests was 8.1 such arrests over.
Age at Time of First Arrest
The age at time of first arrest for this sample of gang members ranged from a low of 5 to a high of 32. The median and the mode age at time of first arrest was 13 years old. The mean or average age at time of first arrest was 13.8 years old.
Juvenile Correctional Experience
Half of the sample of gang members (58.8%, N = 593) have served time in a juvenile correctional institution.
Half (59.2%, N = 598) of this sample of gang members report having permanent tattoos.
School Behavior Problems
The survey asked "have you ever been suspended or expelled from a school for disciplinary problems". Some 83.3 percent (N = 842) of the gang member sample indicated they had such school behavior problems. Only 16.7 percent (N = 169) indicated they had not been suspended or expelled from school for disciplinary problems.
A Third Have Assaulted School Teachers
The survey asked "have you ever assaulted a school teacher" and a full third of this gang member sample (33.7%, N = 340) indicated they had in fact ever assault a school teacher. Thus, two-thirds had not assaulted a school teacher (66.3%, N = 669).
Number of Physical Fights During the Last Year
The survey asked "during the last one year period, estimate how many physical fights you were involved in". The results for this sample of gang members ranged from a low of zero to a high of 100 such fights in the last year. In fact, only 15.3 percent (N = 141) of the gang member sample indicated zero fights in the last year. The mean or average number of fights in the last year was ten.
Number of Close Friends/Associates Who Are Gang Members
The survey asked "how many of your close friends and associates are gang members", the response modes were: Zero, One, Two, Three, Four, Five or more. Only 7.2 percent of the sample indicated they had zero such gang friends. The vast majority (76.9%, N=765) indicated they had "five or more" close friends and associates who are gang members.
Number of Close Friends/Associates Who Use Illegal Drugs
The survey also asked "how many of your close friends and associates use illegal drugs" with the same response modes as for the previous question. Only 14.0 percent (N = 139) indicated zero such close friends and associates who use illegal drugs. Most of this sample (69.9%, N = 693) indicated having five or more such close friends who use illegal drugs.
All Report Having Ever Previously Joined A Gang
All of the N = 1,015 survey respondents being analyzed here reported "yes" to the question "have you ever joined a gang?".
Age at time of First Entering the Gang
The age at time of first joining or entering the gang varied between a low of one years old (for someone who reported they were born into the gang) to a high of 35 years of age. The mean or average age at time of first joining the gang was 12.9 years old for this sample.
Types of Gangs Represented in the National Sample
As described in Section I of this report, there are about 225 different gangs represented in the sample, the vast majority of which are well known criminal gangs. Appendix B provides the identity code for these gangs. This includes a long list of different sets from the Crips and Bloods, and a variety of People and Folks gangs as well.
Length of Tenure in Gang Life
An essential variable for understanding the entire gang risk continuum in terms of human behavior is to know the length of tenure in gang life. The survey therefore asked "how many years have you been in a gang". The results showed a range between a low of zero for someone who had just joined, to a high of 34 years. The mean or average number of years in the gang was 5.5 for this sample of gang members.
Over Two-Thirds Are Still Active In The Gang
The gang is an open system so we have to ask all these questions: did they ever join, at what age, how long they have been active, and here we also had to ask are they still active.
So the survey asked the additional question "are you currently a member or associate of any gang group or gang organization".
Over two-thirds of this sample (73.2%, N = 733) indicated they are still considered active in the gang. About a fourth (26.8%, N = 268) indicated they are not currently a member or associate of the gang.
Reasons for Joining the Gang
The survey asked "what one reason comes closest to describing why you first joined any gang" and six forced choice options were provided. About a fourth (24.6%) joined "to make money". Some 14.7 percent joined "to be with friends". Some 9.6 percent joined because "a family member was in the gang". Only 2.7 percent joined for "protection". The single largest group (37.9%, N = 359) indicated they just "grew up in it". And 10.5 percent said they "believed in its teachings".
Having Ever Attempted to Quit the Gang
Some 43.6 percent (N = 444) of the gang member sample indicated that they have attempted to quit the gang. Thus, just over half (56.4%, N = 552) have not attempted to quit the gang.
Gangs Operating Legitimate Businesses
The survey asked "does the gang you belong to have any legitimate businesses it operates". In this national sample of gang members, just under half (47.5%, N = 444) indicated that their gang does have legitimate businesses it operates. An open-ended follow-up question sought information on what kind of business establishments, specifically, their gang owned and operated. The types of gang-owned businesses are discussed in a later section of this report.
Over A Third Report They Pay Dues Regularly To Their Gang
The survey asked "does the gang you are in require members to pay regular dues". Some 36.8 percent (N = 349) indicated their gang does require paying regular dues. Most therefore reported their gang does not require regular dues (63.2%, N = 599). We will see later how this and other organizational features of gang life vary by gang identity types and other factors. The average amount of monthly dues was $36.87 dollars for those N = 229 reporting such data.
Half Report Their Gang Has A Special Language Code
The survey asked "does your gang have a special language code". Law enforcement agencies today know the value of having informants who can help "translate" gang argot. It can be a very complex language system, filled with double meanings and symbols that are meaningful only to those carrying such values. Some 56.3 percent (N = 538) of the gang sample did report that their gang does have a special language code.
This is a measure of the organizational sophistication of a gang to have its own language code, and is often associated with gangs that have existed over a long period of time. Sicilian Mafia members, for example, have a code-phrase greeting of "E la stessa cosa" meaning "he is the same thing". El Rukns used the ritual greeting "all is well". The phrase "what it B?" is similarly used for Brothers or Peoples or Bloods gangs, as the phrase "What's up G?" as a greeting is customary to Gangster Disciple gang members.
Two-Thirds Report Their Gang Has Written Rules
The survey asked "does your gang have written rules". Some 68.5 percent (N = 657) reported their gang does have such written rules for its members. This aspect of the organizational life of gangs today has been severely neglected in prior gang research.
Older Adult Leaders With High Tenure In the Gang
Overall in America we know so little about the gang problem that analysis barely rises above the level of impressionistic knowledge. Analysts see a lot of "youths" in gang life, and simply call them "youth gangs". The real truth may be, however, that these are gangs run and administered by older adults. The survey therefore asked "does your gang have adult leaders who have been in the gang for many years". Some 87.8 percent (N = 820) of the gang sample responded affirmatively: that yes, their gang has adult leaders who have been in the gang for many years. These are, therefore, for the most part not "youth gangs" at all: they are gangs with youth members who are directed by older adults. We will later see the incentives these older adult leaders have: the income from gang or "nation business" that flows to the top.
The Issue of Gang Operations in Different Geographical Areas
The survey asked "does your gang exist in several different geographical areas or does it exist in just one area". If all gangs did was hang on the corner and play loud music, then whether they existed in several non-contiguous geographical areas would simply be an enlarged turf issue and not a major threat. But the gangs we are analyzing here are criminal gangs, so having several different geographical areas to "work" in might make it a more formidable gang enterprise. The fact is most of these gang members (83.6%, N = 729) indicated their gang exists in several different geographical areas. American criminal gangs today are not simply a "street corner society", they are not "near groups" or "quasi-groups" without structure or organization, they are often formalized groups with adult leaders.
The Issue of Gangster or "Gangsta" Rap Music
The survey asked two questions on this issue, first it asked "do you listen to gangster rap", and most (87.2%, N = 856) indicated they do. The survey then asked "does it influence you", and here only 21.3 percent indicated it influenced them (N = 197). So while most of the gang members in this national sample listen to gangster rap music, a much smaller percentage report they are actually influenced by it.
Gang Members Working For Politicians
The survey asked "have you ever worked for a politician in any way" and just under a fourth of the sample (23.1%, N= 228) indicated they had worked for politicians. Three follow-up questions along the same lines sought to clarify the nature of this political involvement. Some 13.8 percent (N = 136) had worked in voter registration; where half (N = 63) had been asked to do so by their gang leader, and half (N = 71) had been asked by a local politician; further, half (N = 68) were paid for this work, and half (N = 55) were volunteers.
Incarceration Experiences In The Last Five Year Period
The survey asked "during the last five years, how many months were you incarcerated in any kind of correctional facility". The results ranged from a low of zero months to a high of 60 months. The mean or average number of months spent in custody during the last five years was 10.9 for this sample.
Working As a "Runner" In a Retail Drug Sales Operation
This work experience does not get put into a resume anywhere, but some gang sources describe the "work" as being just a structured as any other job: complete with around the clock shifts, supervisors, job specifications, incentives and penalties. The survey did inquire into one aspect of this type of gang drug activity: "have you ever worked as a runner in a retail drug sales operation". About two-fifths of the gang members in this national sample (N = 424, 43.8%) indicated they had worked as a runner in a retail drug sales operation. For the uninformed reader, such drug sales operations are organized in a fashion to limit the risk of arrests and to limit the criminal penalties faced if arrested (i.e., controlling the amount of drugs held on a seller at any point in time, etc).
A follow-up question on income from this source asked those who had experience as a runner "how much money do you get to keep per week on the average", and the results ranged from a low of $50 dollars to a high of $25,000 dollars; with the mean or average being $1,631.41 for this sample (N = 318).
The Modern American Gang Operates Much Like a Benevolent Trade Union Group In the Underground Economy
Section I of this report discussed the real life example of one gang, and based on its internal operations and financial records, it was revealed that in certain cases the gang spent small amounts of its treasury money to send what amounted to unemployment or "relief" payments to its members in jail. The survey therefore asked "does your gang provide money to needy members in or out of jail/prison". Over three-fourths (N = 722, 79.9%) of the gang members in this national sample indicated their gang does act in this benevolent capacity. For the record, we do not interpret this to mean these gangs have made a conversion from being "criminal" to being "pro-social".
About Half Have Held Leadership Rank In Their Gang
The survey asked "have you ever held rank or any leadership position in any gang", and just over half (55.2%, N = 513) indicated they had in fact held leadership rank in their gang. A follow-up open-ended question designed to analyze the infrastructure of specific gangs further asked "what was the highest rank you have held". The nature of these types of leadership roles will be analyzed later in this report.
Street Prices For Six Different Items In the Underground Economy
The survey asked for the going street price for six different items: a new Glock semi-automatic pistol, a new box of 50 9mm bullets, one ounce of pure cocaine, one stolen 12 gauge shotgun, one stolen 38 cal. revolver, and one ounce of top grade marijuana. A wide range of street prices were obtained for each of the six items. The mean or average going street prices for these items among this national sample of gang members was as follows: $268.90 for a new Glock pistol; $42.25 for a box of 9mm bullets; $882.06 for one ounce of pure cocaine; $155.53 for one stolen 12 gauge shotgun; $111.33 for one stolen 38 cal. revolver; and $191.78 for one once of top grade marijuana.
Market Research On Gang Members as Clothing Consumers
The survey asked two separate questions about how these gang members spend their money on clothing. The survey asked "what is the amount of money you spend on clothes in an average month" and a mean or average of $547.38 dollars emerged for this variable. The survey then asked "of this money you spend on clothing, how much of it involves clothing that is gang-related (colors, symbols, etc)" and a mean or average of $237.48 dollars emerged for this variable.
Committing Crimes for Financial Gain With The Gang
The survey asked "have you ever committed a crime for financial gain with your gang" and then in a follow-up manner asked the respondent to check which types of crimes among a choice of seven different crimes they had committed for financial gain with their gang. Over half (61.3%, N = 576) of the gang members reported committing crimes for financial gain with their gang. Specifically, these crime patterns involved the following: 75.2 percent had sold drugs for financial gain with their gang; 34.9 percent burglary; 48 percent robbery; 41.5 percent car theft; 16.4 percent arson; 28.9 percent shoplifting; and 48.6 percent "transported guns, drugs,or wanted person".
Type of Family They Come From
The single largest group of these gang members (42.1%, N = 361) indicated they come from an intact family consisting of mother, father, and siblings. Some 15.9 percent indicated they have a mother, step-parent, and siblings. Only 3.4 percent indicated their family as consisting of father, step-parent and siblings. Over a third (36.7%, N = 315) described their family of orientation as consisting of "single mother and siblings". And only 2 percent indicated "single father and siblings".
Gang Members Views On "Work".
We did not realize it when we surveyed the gang members, but we found out that the phrase "putting in work" for the gang organization means committing crimes for the gang. We do think, however, that most of the gang members got the idea of what we were talking about here with the question. The survey therefore asked "which sentence best describes your thoughts on WORK". Most (74.3%, N = 659) felt "work is good and necessary". Some 8.8 percent felt "my mother/father worked their tails off and didn't get a thing for it". Some 7.9 percent felt "I had a job once and didn't like it". And 9.0 percent felt "there's no sense working for the man because he doesn't appreciate it".
Most Gang Members Do Know Working People As Significant Others
The survey asked the gang members whether there have been any working people in their family or neighborhood that they looked up to and admired. Call them "role models" or "significant others", the fact is about three-fourths (78.2%, N = 748) of the gang members do know working people they look up to and admire.
Racial Oppression And Poverty: A Fourth Accept This Belief.
The survey asked two questions about racial oppression as the cause of poverty. About a fourth of the gang members (27.7%, N = 262) agreed with the idea that "being poor is mostly a racial thing". Nearly a fourth (23.7%, N = 219) also agreed with the idea that "I am poor, mostly, because of my skin color". Some white gang member respondents not uncommonly complained about this item in the survey as being "offensive" to them, particularly skinheads, neo-nazis, and Aryan Nation/Aryan Brotherhood types.
Family Economic Backgrounds of Gang Members
A series of eight different questions were used to separately examine the family economic backgrounds for this national sample of gang members. Over a half (62.7%) indicated their family "sometimes used food stamps". A half (55.8%) said their family "sometimes received public aid or welfare checks". About a half (47.8%) said their family "sometimes had to do odd jobs just to get by". A third (33.4%) said their family "sometimes received food baskets from churches, etc". Over a fourth (30.2%) said their family "sometimes lived in a public housing project". Two-fifths (40.5%) said their family "sometimes had lights, gas, and telephone cut off because the bills could not be paid". Over a third (35.6%) said about their family "sometimes there was very little if any food in the house". Yet somehow, over half (61.5%) "sometimes got a regular weekly allowance for spending money".
Reciprocity Expectations for Individual Illegal Income: Sharing Loot With The Gang.
A scenario or vignette question was included in the survey to the effect: "If you were alone and while burglarizing a house you were able to steal $10,000 dollars, would you be expected to give some of this money to your gang if they found out you had that much money". Just under a fourth (23.9%, N= 214) indicated they would in fact be obligated under some norm of reciprocity for illegal income to share some of the loot with their gang. Most, however, would not have to share this independent income with their gang (76.1%, N = 683), and would therefore be viewed as independent contractors in the world of crime. We will be examining this issue in much greater detail elsewhere in the report.
Prior Employment Experiences of the Gang Members
The survey asked "have you ever held a part-time legitimate job". Two-thirds of these gang members (68.8%, N = 630) indicated they did have this type of prior employment experience.
The survey also asked, "have you ever been fired from any legitimate job", and a fourth of the gang members (28.4%, N = 260) did report having this type of prior employment experience.
Economic Accumulation Among Gang Members
A series of twelve "yes/no" questions sought to measure the accumulation of economic assets owned by the individual gang members, as a way to begin examining their "wealth" and lifestyle. The phrasing of the question was specifically "what kind of things do you personally own yourself".
Some 46.6 percent owned a car. Some 56 percent owned a bicycle. Some 15.5 percent owned a motorscooter. Some 15.2 percent owned a motorcycle. Some 20.5 percent owned an ATV. Some 7.8 percent owned a snowmobile. Some 84.2 percent owned a color television. Some 86.4 percent owned a stereo system. Some 30.2 percent owned a computer. Some 68.5 percent owned a SEGA genesis game. Some 38.6 percent had a bank account in their own name. And 29.6 percent owned savings bonds.
With comparison data on non-gang members this research would be able to address the question of whether gang membership is or is not associated with a higher accumulation of wealth. Obviously, to reach N = 1,015 gang members we did interview a great many non-gang members as well, but this is a matter described later in the report. This section deals only with providing the full "profile" of this national sample of only gang members (N = 1,015).
Three-Fourths Say Their Gang Provides Money to its Needy Members
The survey asked another question about the common group welfare function of the gang "does your gang provide money to its needy members". Three-fourths (77.7%, N = 695) reported that their gang does in fact have this welfare function.
Pimping and Prostitution Among Gang Members
Two separate questions addressed these issues in the survey. Over a fourth (31.5%) reported they have pimped prostitutes before. Only 7.7 percent (N = 71) indicated they had ever served as prostitutes however.
Do Gangs Financially Exploit Their Members?
The survey asked the gang members "do you think that gangs exploit their members over money". Nearly a third of the full sample of gang members (32.6%, N = 290) felt that gangs do exploit their members over money.
The Flow of Gang Income To the Top Gang Leaders
The survey asked "in your opinion, of all the money a gang makes in an average year, what percentage of the money goes to top leaders of the gang". Estimates were provided by N = 641 gang members on this variable, ranging from a low of zero percent to a high of 100 percent, with an overall mean or average of 41.8 percent nationwide. We do expect this to vary by type of gang, a subject of later analysis in this report.
Gang Members As A Source of Civil Suits
The survey asked "have you ever sued anyone in civil court for a wrong that was done to you". Only 14.0 percent nationwide indicated they had done so.
Gangs Retaining Private Attorneys For Criminal Matters
The survey asked "does your gang have a private attorney that you use for defending your members in criminal matters". Over a third (36.5%, N = 319) indicated their gang does retain private counsel for criminal matters. A follow-up question sought to clarify "where does the money come from in paying the attorney", and here over a half (59.9%) indicated their gang treasury paid for the attorney, and 40.1 percent indicated that "the individual member that needs the attorney" pays.
Use of Court Appointed Attorneys By Gang Members
The survey asked "do members of your gang usually use a court appointed attorney when they are facing criminal charges". Half (50.4%) said they do use a court appointed attorney, and half (49.6%) said they did not use a court appointed attorney.
A Third of the Gang Members Indicate Their Gang Keeps An Account Set Aside For Legal Defense
The survey asked "Does your gang keep an account that pays for only legal defense". A third (33.1%) indicated their gang does have this organizational capability.
Gang Ratings For the Effectiveness of Private Versus Court Appointed Attorneys
The survey asked the gang members to agree or disagree with the statement "I would receive a better defense with a private attorney representing me than with a court appointed attorney". Over three-fourths of the gang members (79.3%) agreed. Only 20.7 percent disagreed.
Most Say Their Gang Holds Regular Meetings
The survey asked "does your gang hold regular meetings". Most (82.4%) reported that their gang does hold regular meetings. Only 17.6 percent reported their gang does not hold regular meetings. This is another measure of organizational capability.
Gender And Fertility in the Gang Member Sample
Most of these gang members (84.1%) are males, with only 15.9 percent being female. Among the male gang members, some 48.6 percent have fathered a child. Among the female members, some 32.4 percent have given birth to a child.
Age Distribution in the Gang Member Sample
This national sample of gang members shows an age distribution from as low as 12 years old to a high of 50 years old. The age clusters of 15 to 18 account for 68.1 percent of the entire sample. Some 17.1 percent of the gang members are 21 years of age or older. The mean or average age for this national sample is 18.6 years old.
Almost A Fourth Expect to Be A Future Prison Inmate
The survey asked "do you think you will be a prison inmate in the future". Some 23.6 percent said yes.
Arrests Among Other Family Members: High Among Gang Members
The survey asked "has anyone else in your family ever been arrested" using a check-off list: father, mother, brother, sister, cousin, aunt or uncle, no one in my family has ever been arrested. Some 39.9 percent indicated their father has been arrested. Some 18.3 percent indicate mother has an arrest record. Some 45.1 percent report their brother has been arrested. Some 18.5 percent have a sister who has been arrested. Half (57.6%) have a cousin who has been arrested. Some 50.4 percent have an aunt or uncle who have been arrested. Only 12.9 percent of this national sample of gang members report that "no one in my family has ever been arrested".
Other Reasons For Joining A Gang
Another question on the survey asked "which ONE SINGLE REASON best describes why you joined a gang". Two reasons dominated here: 38.6 percent indicated they joined because "I wanted power and authority", and another 41.0 percent indicated "I am not sure why I joined". We will have more to say about retrospective attempts to ascertain why specifically persons join gangs in a later section of this report.
Three-Fourths Have Family Members Who Are Gang Members
The survey asked "do you have family members who are gang members". Some 76.5 percent of this national sample indicated they do have family members who are gang members.
Nearly Half Are Willing To Die For Their Gang Friends
The survey asked specifically "are you willing to die for your gang friends". Nearly half of this national sample of gang members (45.2%) indicated they are in fact willing to die for their gang friends.
Nearly Half Believe Their Gang Friends Will Die For Them
The survey asked specifically "do you think your gang friends would die for you". Half of this national gang sample (50.8%) felt their gang friends would die for them.
Spending Patterns Among Gang Members
The survey asked "what do you spend most of your extra money on" for four different spending patterns. Some 29.1 percent indicated "restaurants". Some 66.9 percent indicated "clothes". Some 22.3 percent indicated "night clubs". And some 38.5 percent indicated "drugs".
Half of the Gang Members Report Their Gang Has A Treasury
The survey asked "does the gang you are in have a treasury". Some 58.8 percent reported that their gang does maintain a treasury. A follow-up question then asked "how much money is in the treasury during a typical week". The amounts in the treasury were provided by 290 gang members, and for this group the amount in the gang treasury varied between a low of one dollar to a high of three million dollars. The mean or average amount in the gang treasury was $34,920.71 dollars.
A Third Have Lived in Public Housing
The survey asked "have you ever lived in a public housing project". Some 34.5 percent said yes.
Two-Fifths Have Committed A Crime on Public Housing Property
The survey asked "have you ever committed a crime on the property of or inside an apartment of a public housing project". Some 40.0 percent said yes.
Half Say The Gangs In Prison Run The Gangs On The Streets
The survey asked "do the gangs in prison really run the gangs on the streets". Some 54.7 percent said yes.
A Third Have Been Beaten By Their Own Gang
Liberal ethnographers apparently do not get invited to "violation" ceremonies based on what they have had to say about gang life from hanging out with younger members who may share tidbits of gang life with them, but it is a ritual process of corporal punishment and group violence against gang members who violate gang rules or who may even be delinquent on their gang dues. The real issue we raise, morally and legally, is how "voluntary" this violation process is for underage juveniles? The survey asked "have you ever been violated (received a beating) by your own gang for a violation". Some 35.3 percent of this national gang sample indicated they had in fact been beaten by their own gang for misconduct within their gang.
A Half Have Been Beaten Up By A Rival Gang
The survey asked "have you ever been beaten up by a member of a gang you did not belong to". We presume this is a rival or opposition gang because these are all gang members. Some 54.4 percent report being beaten up by another gang.
Limited Loyalty: How 1/4 to 1/3 of All Gang Members Would Rat On Their Own Members For The Right Price
Three separate questions addressed this issue of under what conditions these gang members would "flip", that is become police informants. The survey asked "would you be willing to testify in a secret Grand Jury against a gang leader for $1,000 cash", and some 19.5 percent indicated they would go for this deal. The survey then asked "would you be willing to testify in open court against a gang leader for $5,000 and witness protection services", and some 19.9 percent indicated they would go for this deal. The survey then asked "would you testify against someone in a gang if you were given complete immunity and all charges against you were dropped", and some 32.3 percent indicated they would take this deal. Finally, a fourth variable asked "how much money would it take for you to testify against someone in a gang as a government witness", and specific dollar amounts were filled in the blank by N = 189 gang members, between a low of $5 to a high of $100,000, with an average or mean value of $24,523.93 dollars.
Two-Thirds Have Shot At Someone Because of Gang Activity
The survey asked "have you ever fired a gun at someone because of gang activity". Some 68.1 percent said yes.
Nearly Half Have Used Police Radio Scanners During A Crime
What should perhaps be a factor of aggravation in criminal code sentencing guidelines reflects how criminals have improved their effectiveness with the use of modern technology. The survey asked "have you ever used a police radio scanner while committing a crime (narcotics sales, burglary, etc)". Some 44.4 percent said yes.
Over A Third Have Used Public Telephones To Conduct Criminal Activity
The survey asked "do you use public telephones to conduct criminal activity". Some 38.7 percent said yes.
Does Removing Graffiti Discourage Gang Activity In The Area?
The survey asked "when citizens remove gang graffiti does that discourage the gang from further activity in the area". Contrary to popular opinion of what citizens and police think works, only 16.4 percent of this national sample of gang members agreed with this conventional wisdom.
A second question therefore asked "when gang graffiti is repeatedly removed as quickly as it is put up does that discourage the gang from further activity in the area". Again, only 22.1 percent of these gang members felt this worked.
A Fourth Have Extorted Protection Money From Small Businesses
The survey asked "have you ever engaged in shakedowns (i.e., offering protection) of small businesses". Some 27.5 percent said yes. A follow-up on this question sought to determine which types of target preferences the gang members had. Among those extorting: some 41.7 percent would chose white business owners; some 44.6 percent would chose Black business owners; some 30.2 percent would chose Asian business owners; some 32.9 percent would chose Arab business owners; and some 31.5 percent would chose Hispanic/Latino business owners. We will later examine the "quisling hypothesis": whether gang members tend, more often than not, to target business owners of their own ethnic group.
How Gang Members React To Concepts of Community Policing
The survey asked "would you like to live in a neighborhood where everyone knew the police officer and the police knew all persons who lived there". This gets at the issue of anonymity and overcoming social distance in community policing. Just under a third of this national sample of gang members (32.3%) would like to live in such a neighborhood. Two-thirds (67.7%) would not want to live in such a neighborhood.
The survey asked another question "Do you think that if police spent more time walking the beat, walking around in the neighborhood, it would reduce crime and drug sales". Some 42.8 percent said "yes".
The survey then asked "if the police were continually stopping and searching gang members in a certain area do you think the gang would move its operations elsewhere". This gets at the idea that proactive measures may be able to achieve a displacement effect in community policing theory. Some 44.2 percent of this national sample of gang members agreed.
The survey also asked "would you commit a crime knowing that many neighbors would come to court and testify against you". This gets at the idea of mobilizing local infrastructure against crime. Only about a fourth (27.8%) would commit a crime in such a neighborhood. Most (72.2%) indicate they would not commit a crime under such conditions, suggestive of the value of this particular type of component within community policing today.
Two-Fifths Have Used Motels/Hotels For Drug Sales Operations
The survey asked "have you ever used a motel or hotel for criminal drug sales". Some 43.1 percent said yes.
Impounding Cars: A Deterrent to Transporting Guns
The survey asked "would you carry a gun in your car if you knew the car would be confiscated". Some 37.9 percent would still carry a gun in their car even knowing the car might be impounded and forfeited. The majority (62.1%) would not still carry a gun in their car if it meant they would lose the car.
About A Fourth Are Expected to Share Illegal Income With The Gang
The survey asked "if you engaged in illegal activities for money, would you have to contribute a portion of your earnings to the gang". Some 23.9 percent said yes.
Half Are Not Deterred By the Threat of the Penal Sanction
The survey asked "does the fear of going to prison affect whether or not you would commit a serious crime". Some 42.9 percent said yes. Some 56.9 percent said no.
Half Report Their Gang Engages in Legal Business Activities
The survey asked "does your gang engage in legal business activities, such as auto repair, small stores, owning/renting apartments, home repair services, etc". Half (50.4%) said yes.
How Gangs Spend Their Treasury Money
The example in the beginning of this report noted how one gang spent money on guns, parties, spray paint "to fix the hood", clothing, and small payments to members in jail (see Appendix C). The survey asked "does your gang spend its treasury money on any of the following (Check All That Apply)". Some 58.5 percent indicated "parties". Some 48.9 percent indicated "drugs for party use". Some 16.9 percent indicated "video games". Some 69.9 percent indicated "guns". Some 41.9 percent indicated "gang clothing". And some 55.7 percent indicated "funerals".
Displacement: Two Types of Communities Many Gang Members Would Not Want To Live In.
The survey asked "if you and your entire family had to undergo a complete criminal background and fingerprint check in order to rent an apartment, would that discourage you from wanting to rent in that area". Some 42.2 percent said "yes", it would discourage them.
The survey also asked "would you want to live in a community where they would publish your photo, your name, and your home address in the newspaper as part of a warning to the rest of the public about your gang affiliation". Only 19.6 percent of this national sample of gang members said they would like to live in that type of community.
The Fagin Phenomenon: Adults Using Kids For Gang Work.
The survey posed the following scenario to the large sample of gang members in this study: "if it was illegal to recruit anyone 17 or under into a gang, or if any gang leader would be prosecuted for having children in his gang who just joined (i.e., they wanted to be members, they were not actually recruited), would this make it harder for a gang to operate". Over a fourth (28.4%) said yes, this would make it harder for a gang to operate.
Assaults In The Family of Gang Members: What Comes Around, Goes Around.
The survey asked "have you ever been physically assaulted by someone in your family". Some 42.1 percent said yes.
The survey also asked "have you ever physically assaulted anyone in your family". Some 39.2 percent said yes.
Siblings In the Same or Rival Gangs.
The survey asked "do you have brothers or sisters from your family that belong to your same gang". Some 39.5 percent said yes.
The survey then asked "do you have brothers or sisters from your family that belong to rival gangs". Some 27.9 percent said yes.
Ethnicity Distribution For This Sample of Gang Members
The racial or ethnic distribution for this national sample of gang members is as follows: 42 percent African-American; 14 percent white; 22.6 percent Hispanic/Latino; 3.3 percent Asian; 2.7 percent Native American Indian; and 5.3 percent "Other".
Additional Questions For Some Sites Included Sexual Abuse Data
Some of the sites used for the study could ask these types of questions, and in some sites (i.e., schools) the topic of sex was completely taboo.
One question asked "have you ever been forced to have sex against your will", and data on this was available from N = 396 respondents. A fourth (27.3%) said yes. We will later examine how this varies by gender and other factors.
Another question asked "have you ever forced someone to have sex". Data for this question was available for N = 364 respondents. A fourth (25.3%) said yes.
Similarly, other information was also collected in such sites, as these were typically juvenile correctional settings, another variable asked "how long have you been in this facility, this means this time only". This information will be discussed at appropriate points later in this report.
Distribution By Type of Social Context For Data Collection
Thirteen different social contexts in five states were used for data collection in the present research. Only the gang member sample sizes for each site are presented here. Comparative analyses with non-gang members are available for some of these sites, and will be discussed at later in this report where relevant.
1. Ohio Juvenile Correctional Institution, N = 82.
2. Ohio Juvenile Correctional Institution, N = 50. 3. California Juvenile Short Term Correctional Facility, N = 268.
4. Chicago Alternative High School, N = 118.
5. Chicago Private Day Jail Program, N = 84.
6. Midwest County Jail, Iowa, N = 34
7. Midwest County Jail, Illinois, N = 23.
8. Midwest County Jail, Iowa, N = 20.
9. Probation Supervision Program, Chicago area, N = 28.
10. Michigan Juvenile Correctional Institution, N = 61.
11. Large Midwest Megajail, N = 178.
12. Chicago Anti-Gang Counseling Program, N = 50.
13. Illinois Urban Court Lockup Facility, N = 19.
A total of N = 1,015 gang members were therefore obtained from these sites in five states.
We have described almost all of the variables in the survey in this section. We now turn to looking at more specific issues about the economics of gang life today.
SECTION IV: DO NATIONAL DIFFERENCES EXIST COMPARING PEOPLE, FOLKS, CRIPS, AND BLOODS GANG MEMBERS?
THE VARIATION IN GANG STRUCTURE AND ECONOMIC FUNCTIONAL CAPABILITIES BY TYPE OF GANG: A Comparison of People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Others.
To our knowledge this is the first effort ever made, across jurisdictions in several states with a very large sample of genuine gang members from several different social contexts, to assess the matter of whether any differences exist in the types of gangs identified by gang nation types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, or Other). For the uniformed reader, the "Peoples" alliance includes a variety of gangs such as all factions of the Vice Lords, the Latin Kings, Black P. Stone Nation, etc. The "Folks" alliance includes a similar long list of gang names, most notable being the Gangster Disciples, the single largest gang in Chicago today. The folks/peoples differentiation was born out of the midwest, while the Crips/Bloods differentiation was born out of the west coast. It is fair to say, further, that the folks/peoples dimension of gang alliances arose primarily in Chicago; just as the Crips/Bloods rivalry arose in Los Angeles. Both Chicago and Los Angeles were the sites for some of the present research on gangs, in order to be able to speak to this issue.
However, we will later point out that gang analysts must beware of the fallacy of assuming that any national gang classification system that was limited to four choices (people, folks, crips, bloods) necessarily covers the entire universe. What we are saying here is that we have discovered that the westcoast alliance has in some instances fused with the midwest alliance system, such that the four gang nation categories (people, folks, crips, and bloods) are not mutually exclusive. We found such "hybrids" gang organizations in the midwest outside of Chicago, but we also know that in Chicago the Crips do align themselves with Folks gangs, just as the Bloods align themselves with the Peoples gangs. We found several consistent examples of such gang identities, enough so to conclude that such gang categories (people, folks, crips, bloods) are by no means mutually exclusive in all instances.
It is important to note that in the current research a separate question asked the gang member respondent to specifically identify which type of alliance structure he or she was in. Five choices were provided: People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other.
The purpose of the present analysis, therefore, is to examine the variation in gang structure, with special attention given to the functional capabilities of social organization. In other words, the complexity of organizational life within these gangs is going to be examined, particularly in reference to economic issues. The nature of the comparisons being made here are along the classification system of five different gang nation types: Peoples, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other. For purposes of the analysis here, we eliminated and treated as missing data those cases of gang identity fusion (i.e., a frontier gang, outside of Los Angeles and outside of Chicago, where the gang actually identifies with two such previously thought to be distinct and separate groups).
There were a few case where a gang member in a midwestern state outside of Chicago would classify his gang as being, for example, both "Folks" and "Crips" together. Such cases were therefore deleted for purposes of the analysis that is presented here. That is, such "fusion" gang identities reflecting both Crips/Folks or Peoples/Bloods were excluded entirely from analysis, and are not therefore reflected in what amounts to a legitimate fifth alternative: "other". "Other" in the present research basically covered local provincialized gangs and extremist groups (KKK, Aryan Brotherhood, skinheads, etc). The analysis presented here looks at the vast majority of cases where the gang was specifically of Los Angeles origin, or Chicago origin, in terms of which specific alliance it fit into. The measurement for this variable gave the survey respondent the choices for self-classification of his/her gang identity as: People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other.
Recall that no previous analysis in gang research has actually had sufficient numbers or data of this type to be able to speak to whether there is any difference between Crips, Bloods, People and Folks on matters of organizational sophistication. In the present sample Table 2 shows we have this data for N = 918 gang members.
FREQUENCY AND PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF
TYPE OF GANG ALLIANCE AMONG A
NATIONAL SAMPLE OF GANG MEMBERS
Type of Gang Alliance N %
People 225 24.5
Folks 326 34.5
Crips 124 13.5
Bloods 68 7.4
Other 175 19.1
TOTALS 918 100.0%
Thus, Bloods are the smallest group identity in this national sample of gang members. The fact is, the Crips do outnumber the Bloods in Los Angeles, and this would explain the small percentage (7.4%) representation in the present sample. But the large sizes for such categories still beg for analysis, given this direction of research is the first of its kind. The "People/Folks" story that can be told here therefore includes N = 225 gang members identifying with "Peoples" and N = 326 gang members identifying as "Folks". So the analysis made here goes far beyond any previous "People/Folks" analysis of differences, commonalities, or anything along such a comparison between "Peoples" gang members and "Folks" gang members.
To illustrate the empirical value of the present analysis, previous studies of the differences or commonalities between and among the "Peoples" and "Folks" gangs have not had much breath (measuring a large variety of factors) or scope (a large sample of such gang members). For example, the discussion of People and Folks in the book People and Folks: Gangs, Crime and The Underclass in a Rustbelt City by Hagedorn and Macon (1988) relied on only 47 gang members, among which the book did not make clear how many of these 47 gang members exactly were Peoples and how many were Folks. So it is not fair to say that the Hagedorn analysis, which is more anecdotal than empirical in nature, actually qualifies as such an analysis that can speak to the issues of differences between People and Folks in terms of organizational functioning and other variables measuring crime threat sophistication. And, of course, much has changed inside gangs since the time of the Hagedorn study in Milwaukee; making it somewhat dated as well.
What then do we know from the literature on the differences if any between People and Folks, or between Crips and Bloods? Any gangwise person would answer "yes" to the question "are the People and Folks different" or "are the Crips and Bloods different", because of the symbolic differences that differentiate the gangs. Crips wear Blue, Bloods wear Red. Folks use a "six point star" as their symbol, People use the "five point star". But these are just trappings and veneer, the mere outward appearances of these types of gangs at the lowest level of possible analysis: what they look like.
Our analysis goes well beyond the obvious commonalities that gangs have in terms of their outward appearances and symbols to examine the objective material conditions of the differences, if any, in the way in which these groups or organizations function.
The essence of this investigation, then, is whether significant differences exist comparing types of gangs (Crips, Bloods, People, Folks, Other) in terms of how the gangs operate and function as a group or organization. Are the People, Folks, Crips and Bloods pretty much the same types of organizational structures nationwide? Or are there important differences?
In the analysis undertaken here a broad array of measurements were obtained about the organizational life and functioning of gangs. In fact some 45 different factors are analyzed here. The results in Table 3 show these gangs are similar in some factors and significantly different in other factors. These 45 different factors once compared across the types of gangs are summarized in terms of findings in Figure 2.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS FOR TABLE 3
No Significant Difference Significant Difference (p <= .05)
Ever paid protection money Collected protection money
Having a permanent tattoo Paying fines to the gang
Suspended from school Assaulting school teachers
% joining to make money Attempts to quit the gang
Operates businesses Gang requires regular dues
Worked as a drug runner Gang has a language code
Gang helps needy members Gang has written rules
Having held "rank" Older adults as gang leaders
% Sold drugs w/ the gang Gang exists is several areas
Would have to share loot Worked for a politician
Gang helps its needy members Financial crimes with the gang
Members exploited over money Burglaries with the gang
Private attorney for gang Robberies with the gang
Account for legal expenses Car theft with the gang
Holding regular meetings Arson crimes with the gang
Grand jury for $1,000 cash Shoplifting with the gang
Open court for $5,000 Family members in a gang
Testify if charges dropped % ready to die for the gang
Sharing illegal income % gang friends die for them
Legitimate businesses Gang maintains a treasury
Siblings in the same gang Prison runs the street gang
Violated by their own gang
Fired a gun in gang activity
Siblings belong to rival gangs
PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTIONS FOR VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONAL
FACTORS BY TYPE OF GANG ORGANIZATION
Type of Gang National Alliance
People Folks Crips Bloods Other
Have you ever had to
pay protection money
to a gang? (% Yes) 6.6% 6.1% 8.8% 5.8% 5.7%
Chi-square = 1.47, p = .83, N.S.
Have you ever collected
protection money on
behalf of your gang?
(% Yes) 19.9% 16.7% 27.8% 20.5% 29.0%
Chi-square = 13.3, p = .01
Have you ever had to pay
a fine to a gang?
(% Yes) 24.0% 24.5% 8.9% 4.4% 7.4%
Chi-square = 43.9, p < .001
Do you have a permanent
tattoo? (% Yes) 60.0% 56.9% 58.1% 55.8% 65.1%
Chi-square = 3.64, p = .45, N.S.
Have you ever been
suspended or expelled
from a school for
(% Yes) 83.4% 84.6% 86.2% 85.2% 81.0%
Chi-square = 1.84, p = .76, N.S.
Have you ever assaulted
a school teacher?
(% Yes) 30.0% 33.2% 50.0% 28.3% 31.4%
Chi-square = 17.6, p = .001
Percent Who First Joined
The Gang to Make Money 26.3% 25.0% 29.0% 25.8% 19.1%
p = .23, N.S.
Have you ever attempted
to quit the gang?
(% Yes) 44.5% 49.0% 32.7% 48.4% 39.2%
Chi-square = 11.5, p = .02
Does the gang you are in
have any legitimate
businesses it operates?
(% Yes) 40.7% 51.3% 45.3% 43.2% 50.9%
Chi-square = 7.04, p = 13, N.S.
Does you are in require
members to pay regular
dues? (% Yes) 41.9% 57.8% 19.6% 14.0% 19.2%
Chi-square = 109.35, p < .001
Does your gang have a
special language code?
(% Yes) 53.2% 57.5% 68.3% 70.1% 42.8%
Chi-square = 25.5, p < .001
Does your gang have
(% Yes) 81.6% 86.4% 55.0% 46.2% 44.6%
Chi-square = 135.8, p < .001
Does your gang have adult
leaders who have been in
the gang for many years?
(% Yes) 91.6% 90.3% 85.7% 90.9% 81.9%
Chi-square = 11.2, p = .02
Percent who report their
gang exists in several
areas. 89.6% 93.9% 73.1% 81.2% 72.8%
Chi-square = 51.1, p <.001
Have you ever worked
for a politician in
any way? (% Yes) 22.9% 29.7% 21.1% 13.6% 18.4%
Chi-square = 13.1, p = .01
Have you ever worked as
a "runner" in a retail
drug sales operation?
(% Yes) 43.4% 38.9% 52.1% 41.5% 49.1%
Chi-square = 8.29, p = .08, N.S.
Does your gang provide
money to needy members
in or out of jail/prison?
(% Yes) 82.3% 82.4% 77.6% 71.8% 74.5%
Chi-square = 7.63, p = .10, N.S.
Have you ever held "rank"
or any leadership
position in any gang?
(% Yes) 57.8% 56.4% 55.6% 67.1% 51.5%
Chi-square = 4.77, p = .31, N.S.
Have you ever committed
a crime for financial
gain with your gang?
(% Yes) 56.3% 52.6% 79.3% 67.1% 71.2%
Chi-square = 35.5, p < .001
Percent who have sold
drugs for financial gain
with their gang.
(% Yes) 76.8% 79.3% 77.8% 60.7% 72.3%
Chi-square = 8.33, p= .08, N.S.
Percent who have committed
a burglary crime for
financial gain with
their gang. (% Yes) 23.5% 23.0% 48.4% 45.0% 45.0%
Chi-square = 32.8, p <.001
Percent who have committed
a robbery crime for
financial gain with
their gang. (% Yes) 35.7% 33.3% 65.9% 56.8% 63.4%
Chi-square = 47.0, p < .001
Percent who have committed
a car theft crime for
financial gain with
their gang. (% Yes) 30.0% 32.7% 54.7% 39.2% 55.2%
Chi-square = 28.4, p < .001
Percent who have committed
an arson crime for
financial gain with
their gang. (% Yes) 13.8% 9.6% 23.1% 15.6% 19.6%
Chi-square = 10.2, p = .03
Percent who have committed
shoplifting crimes for
financial gain with
their gang. (% Yes) 17.0% 20.6% 45.2% 23.5% 38.2%
Chi-square = 32.5, p < .001
If you stole $10,000 in a
burglary alone, would you be
expected to share some
of the money with the gang?
(% Yes) 26.1% 20.7% 30.0% 26.1% 23.6%
Chi-square = 4.38, p = .35, N.S.
Does your gang provide
money to its needy
members? (% Yes) 78.8% 81.2% 77.9% 73.8% 71.6%
Chi-square = 6.28, p = .17, N.S.
Do you think that gangs
exploit their members
over money? (% Yes) 39.6% 33.5% 28.5% 28.1% 31.3%
Chi-square = 5.83, p = .21, N.S.
Does your gang have one
private attorney that you
use for defending your
members in criminal matters?
(% Yes) 35.8% 41.3% 34.8% 28.5% 33.1%
Chi-square = 5.40, p = .24, N.S.
Does your gang keep an
account that pays for
only legal defense?
(% Yes) 32.4% 38.0% 27.1% 26.9% 30.3%
Chi-square = 6.05, p = .19, N.S.
Does your gang hold
(% Yes) 85.4% 85.4% 85.9% 75.0% 78.5%
Chi-square = 7.83, p = .09, N.S.
Do you have family members
who are gang members?
(% Yes) 84.0% 76.9% 81.0% 69.2% 70.1%
Chi-square = 13.0, p = .01
Percent who are willing
to die for their gang
friends. 42.4% 33.5% 61.6% 45.3% 50.3%
Chi-square = 29.0, p < .001
Percent who think their
gang friends are willing
to die for them. 48.6% 38.6% 62.3% 60.9% 58.5%
Chi-square = 28.8, p <.001
Does the gang you are in
have a treasury?
(% Yes) 68.4% 73.7% 45.1% 42.8% 44.1%
Chi-square = 58.5, p < .001
Do the gangs in prison
really run the gangs
on the streets?
(% Yes) 60.9% 56.5% 50.4% 36.6% 54.7%
Chi-square = 11.8, p = .01
Have you ever been
"violated" (received a
beating) by your own
gang for a "violation"?
(% Yes) 44.2% 40.9% 40.0% 25.7% 22.0%
Chi-square = 25.6, p < .001
Would you be willing to
testify in a secret
Grand Jury against a
gang leader for
$1,000 cash? (% Yes) 20.9% 18.5% 21.6% 21.5% 19.3%
Chi-square = .79, p = .93, N.S.
Would you be willing to
testify in open court
against a gang leader
for $5,000 and witness
(% Yes) 21.4% 20.0% 18.0% 20.0% 22.8%
Chi-square = 1.08, p = .89, N.S.
Have you ever fired a
gun at someone because
of gang activity?
(% Yes) 68.2% 60.7% 82.3% 80.9% 69.1%
Chi-square = 21.8, p < .001
Would you testify against
someone in a gang if you
were given complete
immunity and all charges
against you were dropped?
(% Yes) 37.2% 30.1% 32.7% 29.5% 32.8%
Chi-square = 2.71, p = .60, N.S.
If you engaged in illegal
activities for money, would
you have to contribute a
portion of your earnings
to the gang? (% Yes) 23.1% 22.8% 25.6% 32.7% 22.1%
Chi-square = 3.29, p = .50, N.S.
Does your gang engage in
legal business activities,
such as auto repair, small
apartments, home repair
services, etc? (% Yes) 53.7% 51.8% 54.2% 51.6% 43.7%
Chi-square = 4.09, p = .39, N.S.
Do you have brothers or
sisters from your family
that belong to your same
gang? (% Yes) 41.7% 40.9% 43.1% 33.8% 35.5%
Chi-square = 2.95, p = .56, N.S.
Do you have brothers or
sisters from your family
that belong to rival
gangs? (% Yes) 25.5% 35.2% 32.7% 31.1% 17.8%
Chi-square = 15.4, p = .004
FACTORS IN COMMON BETWEEN PEOPLE, FOLKS, CRIPS, AND BLOODS
All of the factors in Figure 2 under the column "no significant difference" are discussed here. If there is no significant difference, then is it a commonality. A number of commonalities appeared in Table 3 in examining 45 different factors about gang life. The significant findings will be addressed separately following this section on commonalities.
Paying protection money to a gang appears to be relatively rare among gang members, as Table 3 shows that this factor never exceeds 10 percent among gang members for all types of comparisons (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other). There is almost no difference on this factor.
Half or more of the gang members in this analysis do have permanent tattoos, and again there is no difference in this behavior across gang types.
Similarly, three-fourths or more of the gang members in all groups have been suspended from school before for disciplinary problems. The gangs do not differ on this factor, they all seem to independently attract the same type of human being with this type of human development milestone.
About a fifth of the gang members in the People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods originally joined the gang to make money. Thus, there is no difference on this instrumental motivation for gang joining behavior. All of the gang types attract a similar level of new entrepreneurs for the underground economy.
The gangs are not different with regard to whether they operate any legitimate business enterprises. A separate section later in this report summarizes the types of businesses the gangs report owning and operating. About two-fifths to a half of the gang members report their gang does own legitimate businesses. No significant difference emerges here.
The gangs are not different in terms of what appears to be their membership involvement in organized drug retail sales operations, as measured by a resume item in gang life: having worked as a runner in a retail drug sales operation. Again, about two-fifths to a half of the gang members report having this experience. No difference emerges between the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other) on this factor.
All of the gang types appear to have the common welfare function of providing monetary payments to needy members in or out of jail/prison. About three-fourths of the gang members in all gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods) report that their gang does provide this type of economic function for this members. As discussed earlier in the analysis of the transcript of the actual financial and internal records of one chapter of one gang within one gang nation in Chicago: these are often small amounts, but meaningful and therefore more symbolic than anything else. A gang that one has to kill in to get rank or reputation is not necessarily incompatible with one that looks out for its members in this fashion of small symbolic payments (i.e., commissary money while in jail). This is not necessarily a prosocial act, it is one that preserves the social bond of the jailed gang member to the gang. That same gang member in jail might have been beaten by the gang for not paying regular dues in a timely fashion is what our data also shows.
There appears to be no difference in the ability to attain rank or leadership position in the gangs. We will in a later section of this report examine the infrastructures of the gangs in terms of the leadership roles available in the gang hierarchy. About half or more of the gang members in all gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods) have held some type of rank or leadership position. Only one of these 1,015 gang members reported a specific role title of gang leadership as "top dogs". Mostly these are specific functional positions for the gang organization as will be discussed later. Thus, the gangs are not different in terms of the difficulty of attaining "rank". There is no difference comparing the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) in terms of whether the members have sold drugs as an income-producing crime with their gang. The norm seems to be about three-fourths of the gang members report this experience.
There is no difference comparing the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) in terms of the norm of illegal economic income reciprocity: the notion that if the gang member stumbles across $10,000 in cash while out alone committing a burglary that he would be expected to share some of the money with his gang. About a fourth of the gang members report this is true.
A second separate question about the welfare function of the gang also showed no significant differences by gang type (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). That the gangs do not differ in terms of whether their gang provides money to its needy members. The two questions about the welfare function of the gang appeared at different points in the item order of the survey, and were designed also to provide a validity check (i.e., lie test). This is actually a test of the internal consistency of the individual gang member respondents. The results of this test are provided in Table 4.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF TWO WELFARE FUNCTION VARIABLES
IN A LARGE SAMPLE OF GANG MEMBERS
Does Your Gang Provide Money
To Its Needy Members?
Does your gang provide
money to needy members
in or out of jail/prison?
NO 107 60
YES 73 607
Chi-square = 227.9, p < .001
Obviously, Table 4 shows some inconsistency, but overall this is small in comparison with the vast majority who are consistent. These are not exactly the same questions, one is very general and includes whether the gang simply provides money to its needy members; the other is whether the gang provides money to needy members in or out of jail/prison. Thus we find 60 gang members in the inconsistent pattern: "NO" their gang does not cover those in jail/prison, but does provide money to its needy members --- thus, logically, this subtle difference in the two questions is a possible explanation for the small inconsistency. The other inconsistency is not so easily explained by logic: where 73 gang members say their gang does provide money to its needy members in or out of jail/prison, but where the gang does not provide money to its needy members generally. Still, the vast majority of the respondents were internally consistent in their answers on the survey.
Another commonality between gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) is an issue that has previously appeared in the at least one contribution to the literature in Felix Padilla's The Gang as an American Enterprise (1992). In his ethnographic study of the Latin Kings in Chicago, he concluded that some gang members become alienated from their "gang work" (i.e., selling drugs). That is they feel just as exploited financially as they would feel if they worked at a local fastfood franchise, being paid the minimum wage: the real profits go to the top owners of the enterprise, not to the workers. That is Padilla (1992) asserts, we believe correctly, that the economic income activities of the gang become sometimes viewed as exploitive. Table 3 shows that no difference exists across gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) in terms of whether the gang members think that the gang exploits its members over money. Over a fourth of the gang members in all gang types express this opinion. Thus, on this alienation factor over money, the gang organizations are similar in nature.
Another way in which the gang organizational forms are similar is in their capability regarding legal defense. Asked if their gang has one private attorney it uses for defending its members in criminal matters, about a third of the gang members reported this was true across gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other).
Similarly, a related factor about the sophistication of the gang organization is its ability to keep an account that pays only for such legal defense. Here again we find in Table 3 no significant difference across gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). Again, over a fourth of the gang members report their gang has this capability.
An organizational function factor that tells us a lot about the nature of any group or organization composed of human beings is whether it holds regular meetings. On this issue, again, no difference emerges in comparing gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). Three-fourths or more of the gang members in all gang types report that their gang holds regular meetings. Recall that the gang from Chicago that we called the Ethnic Rulers, used as an example to explain the importance of economic functions and activities in the modern American gang, met on a consistent weekly basis; the complete transcript for this internal gang's records of financial reports and other major activities of an official nature (i.e., that were entered into the official chapter "minutes" of the gang), are provided in Appendix C.
Three different forced-choice questions were included in the survey that measure the extent to which the gang members under the right condition might become police informants. None of the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) differ on any of these three measures of snitching. All the gang types have the same proportion of potential snitches. About a fifth of all gang members would rat on a gang leader to a secret Grand Jury for $1,000 dollars. About a fifth would be willing to testify in open court against a gang leader for $5,000 cash and witness protection services. About over a fourth of the gang members would "flip" and testify against someone in a gang if they were given complete immunity and all charges were dropped against them.
A second question about the norm of illegal income reciprocity, or the expectation that the gang member would be expected to contribute a portion of illegal income to the gang, was also not significantly different comparing gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). Also these two similar types of questions are able to significantly differentiate the gang members in the sample. If the two variables were not significantly related then we could conclude a serious problem of validity existed in the data. The second question asked "if you engaged in illegal activities for money, would you have to contribute a portion of your earnings to the gang". About a fifth or more of the gang members across all gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) indicated they would be expected to contribute some of their illegal earnings to the gang.
A second question was also included in the survey as a validity check or lie test. The first question was general and appeared early in the item order (#24) while the second question was similar but with specific references (#98) and appeared towards the end of the survey instrument in the item order. This second question asked "does your gang engage in legal business activities, such as auto repair, small stores, owning/renting apartments, home repair services, etc". Clearly, a significant relationship exists between both of these variables measuring whether the gang is involved in legitimate businesses, thus we can rule out a serious threat to validity as the majority of the respondents are consistent in their answers between both questions. No difference emerged across gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) for this second variable on gang business ventures, about a half report such activity.
Finally, we tested the idea from the notion that the family that plays together stays together. In other words, do the gang members have brothers or sisters from their family that also belong to their same gang? No difference emerged in comparing gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) on this factor. A third or more of gang members in all gang types report this phenomenon.
This preceding discussion has focused on those factors in Table 3 that were not significantly differentiated by the type of gang (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). The term "significant" here refers to probability in terms of the Chi-square test, a statistical technique. The Chi-square value from the Chi-square test measures the extent to which the two factors are independent or are related or associated with each other. The higher the Chi-square value, generally, the higher the relationship between the two variables. The Chi-square test statistic compares expected frequency with actual observed frequency in any cross-tabulation or table. A significant difference therefore must be one that would have a probability level of less than or equal to .05 (p <= .05), which means that the observed distribution could have occurred by chance alone in only one or fewer times out of twenty by chance alone.
No difference exists between the midwest or westcoast gang systems on the matter of whether their gangs have adult leaders who have been in the gang for many years. Table 3 shows a significant effect, but it is the "OTHER" category that creates this significance. Once we remove the "other" category and compare only People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods on this variable, no significant difference emerges. Nearly all of the gang members from the Peoples, Folks, Crips, and Bloods report that their gang does have adult leaders who have been in the gang for many years, as seen in Table 3. That is, in about 90 percent of all gang members, they will report such adult gang leaders who have considerable tenure inside their gang.
Finally, no significant difference exists comparing midwest system gangs (People/Folks) with westcoast system gangs (Crips/Bloods) on whether they have brothers or sisters from their family that belong to rival gangs. Table 3 does show a significant difference, but the "Other" category masks a no-difference between the four basic gang types: peoples, folks, crips, bloods. Once the "Other" category is partialed out, no significant difference exists regarding this factor.
The survey asked "have you ever collected protection money on behalf of your gang". Table 3 shows that a significant difference emerged in this regard in comparing gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other). Folks gang members showed the lowest experience in this regard (16.7%). However, 27.8 percent of the Crips gang members reported carrying out this function for their gang. However, it is the "Other" category that is compounding the relationship here, for once we eliminate the "Other" category any significant difference disappears.
We now turn to those significant findings in Table 3. These will show that there are some notable differences that were revealed in comparing gang types.
SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BY GANG TYPES: Comparing People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other.
It is reasonable to expect variation in organizational sophistication and in actual criminal activities or the level of crime threat posed by gangs. This is, after all, the principal classification basis for gang threat analysis. That is, gangs and gang members do vary in the extent to which they pose a crime threat. This is also the concept of the gang risk continuum.
Below are summarized those factors about gang life that appear to vary between gang types. We will discuss the implications of such differences later in this report.
Gang Members Paying Fines to their Gang: Highest for People/Folks, Lowest for Crips/Bloods.
The survey asked "have you ever had to pay a fine to a gang". As illustrated in the earlier example of an actual transcript of the internal records of one gang over a six month period, such fines are sometimes common at least in the major Chicago gang examined earlier (see Appendix C). Table 3 shows a significant difference, however, with regard to this type of organizational capability or organizational style for the management of members of the gang. About a fourth of both Peoples and Folks gang members have previously paid a fine to their gang as seen in Table 3. However, less than ten percent of Crips or Bloods have had to pay a fine to their gang.
This does suggest something unique about the organizational function and structure of these two different types of gang alliances. Both types of gang systems (People/Folks, Crips/Bloods) as discussed earlier have common welfare functions for their members in about the same degree. However, on this factor of membership fines, the midwest gang system (People/Folks) appears to have better internal organizational capability.
Assaulting School Teachers: Crips Lead in This Behavior.
Table 3 shows a significant difference in regard to one type of behavior and conduct: whether the gang member has ever assaulted a school teacher. For the other gang types (People, Folks, Bloods, Other) this factor never rises above a third of the members represented in these gang types. However, a half of the Crips (50%) report having assaulted a school teacher. We believe this, combined with other variables, may begin to set a pattern or profile along the gang organizational risk continuum suggestive of the ability to differentiate between types of gangs in terms of which poses a higher threat.
Ability to Keep Members in the Gang or Whether the Gang Member Has Ever Tried to Quit the Gang: Crips Least Likely to Try to Quit the Gang.
Table 3 shows that the Crips gang members were the least likely to have ever attempted to quit gang life. Nearly half of the Folks gang members (49%) indicated they had at some point in the lives attempted to quit the gang. Only a third of the Crips (32.7%) have attempted to quit their gang.
Economic Compliance/Support Structures Are Different Comparing Gang Systems: People/Folks Gangs Much More Likely To Benefit From Members Paying Regular Dues to the Gang.
The survey asked "does the gang you are in require members to pay regular dues". Again, we discussed this economic function of gang life earlier in reference to the transcript of six months of complete internal records for one gang in Chicago (See Appendix C). This illustrated how serious this gang was about collecting dues: if you did not pay, you got a violation (i.e., a physical beating). A gang that has the ability to enforce regular dues payments from its members is a gang with higher organizational sophistication.
Table 3 showed that a significant difference emerged in comparing gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, and Other) in regard to whether their gang required paying regular dues. The trend detected shortly before in this report about the gang system of People/Folks being more organizationally enhanced again appears here. Over half of the Folks gang members (57.8%) reported that they are expected to regularly pay dues to their gang. This was similar for Peoples gang members (53.2%). However, for Crips and Bloods, a fifth or less reported they were expected to pay dues on a regular basis.
No current law exists anywhere in the United States to our knowledge about illegal dues payments to gangs. But when a gang can demand regular dues payments from its members with the threat of violence, this is legally extortion in any other context. Should a law exist that makes Criminal Extortion for Dues From Juveniles a crime? Probably, but the way the gang problem works in America is that it propels itself further and faster in terms of social change than societal mechanisms of social control can catch up to it. We will have more to say about the income source of gang dues later in this report.
Gang Argot Language Codes
The survey asked "does your gang have a special language code?" Crips and Bloods are shown in Table 3 to be more likely to have a special language code than are People/Folks gang members. Still, over half of all gang types (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods) report having such a special language code in their gang. This is, after all, gang argot: special symbolization in an oral code of social values maintained in a not only a deviant but a criminal subculture.
Written Rules for Gang Members: People/Folks More Sophisticated.
The survey asked "does your gang have written rules"? Many examples of such written rules are provided in An Introduction to Gangs (Knox, 1995), and basically become a way of managing gang membership conduct. Such written rules therefore become a type of sub rosa version of formal social control inside the gang organization. It constitutes illegitimate power, power based on force and coercion (i.e., the treat or actual use of violence) against members who are not in a position to complain or report such assaults as crimes --- these assaults will therefore not show up in the Uniform Crime Reports.
Table 3 shows that over three-fourths of the members of People and Folks gangs report their gang has written rules. This significantly differs from the pattern in the Crips/Bloods. The most organized were the Folks gang members, where 86.4 percent reported their gang has written rules. However, only 55 percent of the Crips and 46.2 percent of the Bloods gang members reported their gang has written rules. This is an important measure of organizational structure: specific forms of conduct that are expected out of members. The trend, again, here is the midwest gang system (People/Folks) showing the greater organizational sophistication.
Non-Contiguous Geographical Turf Control: Folks Hold Down More Lateral Area.
The survey asked "does your gang exist in several different geographical areas or does it exist in just one area"? As seen in Table 3 gang members who were "Folks" had the highest organizational capability in regards to this factor, with 93.9 percent reporting their gang exists in several different geographical areas. The Folks subsample is mostly Gangster Disciples. The Gangster Disciples are so large (some estimates put their core membership in Chicago alone at 35,000) in the midwest they have been known to rent out the Chicago International Amphitheater on several occasions to throw private concerts for their members from throughout the midwestern United States.
Both People and Folks gangs are higher in this organizational factor of having non-contiguous geographical areas in which their gang operates than are Crips and Bloods.
Gang Members Working For Politicians: Everyone Does It, But the Folks Do It More!
Table 3 shows over ten percent of the gang members from both gang systems (people/folks, crips/bloods, and Other) report having ever worked for a politician. The real difference that emerges here, however, is the comparison between the Folks and the Bloods. The Folks are highest on having ever worked for a politician (29.7%) and the Bloods (13.6%) are the least likely to have had the benefit of this experience of contributing to the functioning of the American political system. What we are lacking here is a knowledge of whether any of this "work" for politicians was also illegal or illicit.
Committing Income-Producing Crimes With the Gang - Crips Members Are Doing More Nation Business
The survey asked "have you ever committed a crime for financial gain with your gang" and went on to ask whether this involved specific types of crimes in order to be able to assess the crime patterns overall. Seven different crime patterns were used as separate questions, six of which are tested presented in Table 3. As discussed earlier no difference emerged in comparing the gang types in terms of whether they had sold drugs as an income producing crime with their gang. However, Table 3 does show that five specific types of crime patterns are significantly different in these gang types: burglary, robbery, car theft, arson, and shoplifting and the Crips gang members lead in all five categories. Also, People and Folks gang members are consistently lower on these self-reported crime pattern dimensions than are Crips and Bloods gang members.
Family Members Who Are Also Gang Members
The survey asked several questions along these lines, but the variable examined here (item #70) asked "do you have family members who are gang members". Generally, well over half of all gang members from the various types of gangs (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) reported they had family members who were also gang members. The real difference here is between the high of 84 percent of the Peoples gang members having this attribute and the low of 69.2 percent among members of the Bloods gang type.
What "Hard Core" Really Means in Gang Life Today: Being Willing to Die for Your Gang Friends, or Believing Your Gang Friends Would Die For You.
We call this the "Kamikaze factor", that is the extent to which a gang member would be willing to die for his/her gang nation. The flip side of this is the "Lemming factor", that is believing that fellow gang members are willing to die for each other, in a reciprocal system of commitment levels to the gang organization. We think as well this subjective factor about gang life really tends to measure who is or who is not, after all, very highly committed to the gang: i.e., who is and who is not "hard core" in terms of their commitment to the gang.
The survey asked "are you willing to die for your gang friends". Table 3 shows that the Crips gang members were the more hardcore in this regard, with 61.6 percent willing to lay down their life for their gang. However, only a third of the Folks gang member were willing to do so.
The survey also asked "do you think your gang friends would die for you". Table 3 shows that Crips and Bloods are about equal in this regard, but that the Crips/Bloods or west coast gang system is consistently higher than the People/Folks or midwest gang system in this regard. Some 62.3 percent of the Crips gang members felt their fellow gang members would die for them, compared to 38.6 percent among Folks gang members.
Having A Gang Treasury: More Common to Midwest Gang System (People/Folks) Than In Westcoast Gang System (Crips/Bloods).
Another aspect that measures the organizational sophistication of a gang is whether it maintains a collective fund or treasury. Obviously, this type of organizational capability exists within gangs today. However, the trend in findings suggestive of greater organizational sophistication in the midwest gang system is again revealed here in Table 3. Both Peoples and Folks gang members were more likely to report their gang has a treasury than Crips or Bloods. Some 73.7 percent of Folks gang members reported their gang has a treasury, compared with only 42.8 percent among Bloods gang members. This research project did measure in a separate question how much money was in the gang treasury during a typical week. The matter of the amount of money in the gang treasury will be addressed later in this report.
Do the Gangs in Prison Really "Run" The Gangs on the Streets?
The significant difference that emerges in Table 3 in this regard is really the low rate (36.6%) for this factor among members of the Bloods gang type. Also, the midwest gang system (People/Folks) was higher than the westcoast gang system (Crips/Bloods) in this regard. But generally, a good deal of "street gang activity" appears from these findings to be really controlled by what are typically much older adult gang leaders who continue to operate their gangs from behind bars.
This would not be possible in other countries, but in the United States prison inmates retain many constitutional rights, among the more important being: ability to communicate in privacy with legal counsel (i.e., an attorney). Thus, a powerful gang leader can retain an entire law firm to represent his interests anywhere in America even though he is behind bars serving time. Legally, an attorney is after all doing what in the American system of jurisprudence holds right and just: it is trying to get someone out of prison. There are few rules of conduct in State Bar Associations that regulate attorney behavior which would prohibit an attorney from also being a courier of information for the gang. Under the United States Constitution a law offender has a right to be presumed to be innocent and have a right to counsel and legal remedies even after conviction for a crime. An attorney representing a major gang leader could therefore accept the fiction that the gang leader is rehabilitated and act accordingly in good faith to try and get the gang leader released from prison, and in that capacity serve a liaison function between the imprisoned gang leader and the outside street gang. A private attorney is more effective for this function than any other form of communication, because all mail and all telephone rights in prison are a privilege, and are subject to legal ongoing surveillance (as the Supreme Court has generally ruled that a correctional facility can do so to the extent that the safety and security of the institution warrants it).
We do not have any specific research on the extent to which private attorneys working for the gang actually do act as couriers or a liaison for the gang.
Coercive Compliance Inside the Gang Organization
Another aspect of gang organization sophistication and functioning is whether gang members are physically punished for breaking internal gang rules. Gang members know this coercive function of the gang organization as the matter of "receiving a violation". A "violation" means a getting a beating from one's own gang for breaking an internal rule (i.e., paying dues on time, dropping the flag, disrespecting fellow gang members, etc).
A gang that does engage in coercive compliance functions (i.e., corporal punishment for breaking rules) is therefore more authoritarian than one that lacks this capability of keeping gang members "in check". The more sophisticated gang organization would be one that has this control capability for its members, because it is a ritualized activity: the member is often given a "hearing", goes to "trial", fellow gang members "vote" on guilt or innocence, or in cases of not paying dues or losing a gun or other gang resource would mean an almost automatic punishment, and the gang member then voluntarily submits to this punishment process in strange form of highly ritualized behavior. However, when a juvenile or a person not of legal age make such decisions to volunteer for a physical beating, is this really a "Voluntary" behavior legally? Or is it a form of coercion and compulsion, and in the case of juveniles should it also be specifically an illegal form of conduct?
We would collectively tend to side in favor of protecting the rights of children and argue that such phenomenon should be illegal, and further complicate the ability of adult gang leaders to obtain compliance from juvenile gang members. However, we are aware of only one law on this issue, and it is very recent, where in Illinois it is now a crime for someone to physically punish a fellow gang member for trying to leave the gang. That law would not cover most of the other types of routine "violations" that occur in American gangs today.
Table 3 shows that the real difference in this factor of whether gangs use coercive compliance is the low rate for the Bloods (25.7%) and the higher rate (44.2%) for Peoples. But generally, over a fourth of the two gang systems types (people/folks, crips/bloods) report their gang uses this type of coercive compliance.
Gang Gun Violence: Having Ever Fired A Gun At Someone Because of Gang Activity.
The westcoast gang system (Crips/Bloods) shows a higher threat level in terms of this behavior of having ever fired a gun at someone because of gang activity than does the midwest gang system (People/Folks). The Crips showed the highest tendency here, where 82.3 percent of the Crips gang members reporting firing a gun at someone because of gang activity. This compares with the low of 60.7 percent for Folks gang members.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: Comparing Peoples, Folks, Crips, and Bloods.
The findings in Table 3 showed some commonalities and some significant differences. Generally, what all the four major gang types (Peoples, Folks, Crips, and Bloods) have in common is the behavioral profile of the persons they attract as members: few have ever had to pay protection money to a gang, over half have a permanent tattoo, most have been suspended or expelled from school before, about a fourth joined the gang to make money, over a third report their gang operates legitimate business enterprises, a third to a half have worked as a "runner" in retail drug sales operations, about three fourths report their gang functions like a kind of benevolent trade union in providing money to its needy members in or out of jail/prison, half or more have held rank or leadership positions in their gang, about three-fourths have sold drugs for financial gain with their gang, about a fourth would have to share $10,000 from an independent burglary crime with their gang, a fourth to a third feel their gang exploits its members over money, about a third have a private attorney the gang uses for its members and at least a fourth have an account that pays specifically for legal defense, three-fourths or more say their gang holds regular meetings, and under the right conditions a fifth to a third or more of the gang members would become informants against their gang, and the members may have siblings who belong to the same gang or a rival gang. No significant difference emerges on any of these factors comparing the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods).
Two trends emerged in the significant differences in Table 3 in comparing the gang types (People, Folks, Crips, and Bloods).
(1) In some respects, the midwest gang system (People/Folks) had greater organizational sophistication.
*** Midwest gangs (People/Folks) were much more likely to report having paid fines to their gang than were the westcoast gangs (Crips/Bloods).
*** Midwest gangs (People/Folks) were much more likely to require their members to pay regular dues.
*** Midwest gangs (People/Folks) were much more likely to report their gang has written rules for its members.
*** Midwest gangs (People/Folks) were much more likely to report that their gang maintains a treasury.
(2) In some respects, the westcoast gang system and the Crips in particular profiled as a higher crime and violence threat.
*** Crips were the most likely to report having ever assaulted a school teacher (50%).
*** Crips were the more highly committed to their gang; being the least likely (32.7%) to have ever attempted to quit the gang. In fact, the Crips were also the most "hard core" as measured by the willingness of gang members to die for their gang or believing their gang friends would die for them.
*** Crips and Bloods were more likely to report having committed a crime for financial gain with their gang than were People and Folks gang members. The Crips were the highest in specific types of crime patterns: burglary, robbery, car theft, arson, and shoplifting. Generally, westcoast gangs (Crips/Bloods) were more "hard core" in this respect than the midwest gangs (People/Folks), including having ever fired a gun at someone because of gang activity.
What this analysis has therefore revealed are a lot of commonalities that American gangs have today, and some important nationwide differences as well.
GANG OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISES
Gangs do own what might appear to be legitimate business enterprises, and a wealth of evidence has been accumulated to this effect in the present research. However, we are not able to conclude ipso facto that this signals a massive nationwide conversion from gangs to a more prosocial way of life as some less skeptical observers might believe. Figure 2 below summarizes some of these types of businesses owned by gangs.
TYPES OF LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES OWNED BY GANGS
Research Site Gang Type Types of Business Operations
Ohio Crip Billiards hall, dance clubs
Candy stores, cab/livery service
California Crip Car paint & Body shop
pager shop, auto shop,
real estate, stereo shops,
car wash, shoe store,
stores, fish market, low
rider shop, liquor stores,
Blood Record company, auto shop
car wash, low rider shop,
fast food place, music
Surenos Car wash, mechanic shops
Illinois GD's Fashion stores, beeper and flip phone stores, grocery stores, car wash, jewelry
stores, clothing stores,
restaurants, barber shops,
game room, airbrush shop,
21st Century V.O.T.E., body shops, sandwich shop, security company, neon light shop, auto body shop, barber shops
Folks Rib place, pool hall, vending route, game room, car wash,
fish shop, shoe shop, studio,
laundromat, beauty parlors, barber shops
BD's Day care center, own buildings
Latin Dragons Bakery, beeper shop
LaRaza Fastfood Mexican restaurant
4C.H. Record shop, beeper shop, hair shop, stores, barber shops
B.P.S.N. Stores, beeper shops, restaurants, clothing stores,
beauty shops, car wash
Cobras Stores T.A.P. Pool halls, liquor store
Ambrose Street news stand,
People Barb'que joints, liquor stores
Vice Lords Liquor stores, buildings, car wash, dance clubs, tire repairs, beeper shops, restaurants,
record studio, car lots, real
P.R. Stones Bars
26/Cicero Construction business
Satan's Disc. Auto parts store, beeper store, truck service, construction company,
Latin Kings Beeper communications, dance hall, pool hall
S.G.D.N. Bars, hamburger joints, record and tape shops
IOWA: 4 C.H. Book/curio store
GD Stores, taverns
Vice Lord Car dealerships
MICHIGAN: B.P.S.N. Pool hall, gas station, arcade, dance clubs
Crips Dance club
As seen in Figure 2, in all five states where data was collected gangs did emerge that owned legitimate businesses. Some of the respondents did give us exact names of these business enterprises, but these specific identities (i.e., Joe's Pizza and Rib Joint) are not provided here. The pattern to these business enterprises is clear as well: these are businesses that in some instances are ideally suited to functioning in both the above ground economy and the underground economy. That is, a body shop or auto parts shop or tire repair shop is ideally suited to selling stolen auto parts or stolen tires as well. A dance hall, tavern, bar, pool hall, arcade is ideally suited for selling drugs. It seemed clear from the written remarks of the gang members that in some instances this was very clear: that legitimate business was simply mixed with illegal operations.
Some of these enterprises simply function to provide a legal meeting place for the gang: a pool hall, an arcade, a restaurant, an "after hours" bar, or a teen dance club. The airbrush shop, for example, provides gang members with their unique gang cultural artifacts and symbols and commemorative apparel. It seemed clear from some written comments that in some instances it was a gang leader who as an individual was the owner of the business enterprise.
We do not know if the business enterprises are legally owned by the gang, as in the case of the Chicago Vice Lords, or if these businesses are strawman operations for the gang, where the gang or members of the gang, typically leaders, are the hidden owners. We do not know if the business enterprises are simply a means of laundering illegal drug income. But the fact remains, this research shows some gangs do now have this capability to launder money through cash business enterprises.
A SECURITY THREAT GROUP ANALYSIS
The term "security threat group" is another modern day expression for what covers "criminal gangs". The concept of "security threat group" (STG) or "security risk groups" is one applied mostly to correctional systems. The value of carrying out such an analysis here is that the national gang sample in the present research does include a number of different correctional settings, juvenile and adult.
A new organizational position exists in most correctional facilities today, and it is the role provided by the person designated as the STG-coordinator. This role has different names as well, but basically means the same, it includes an intelligence function about gangs. This new role has arisen in corrections because of the new problems that gangs create in correctional institutions. Nationwide, this new occupation in criminal justice is just now getting organized to be able to share and learn from their common experiences. One of the duties of the STG-coordinator is to identify gang members --- or security threat group members --- and to help keep the peace by limiting the damage that STG's can do behind bars.
It is often necessary for the STG-coordinator to develop a classification system along dimensions of risk. In a correctional setting this is probably going to be mostly the risk or threat of violence to staff and inmates from gang or STG members. Admittedly, the very term "STG" is somewhat broader than the meaning and the definition of criminal gang, but in practice they amount to much of the same thing. The reason for a classification system for STG members is to be able to physically isolate them into manageable groups. That is, the very high security unit would be reserved for only the most "hard core" or those most prone or most predicted to be a threat of violence to staff or other inmates.
THE VALUE OF A CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM FOR MANAGING GANG PROBLEMS
In the correctional setting, once a person is identified as an STG member, restrictions will have to be placed on that person because they are a higher risk. We are suggesting that a way to establish this criteria for increased security levels is to use a classification system based on a Security Threat Group Analysis. This would be a way of validating the classification system used, to make sure it "works" on the target population. "Works" here means simply enough: is the type of threat analysis applied for classification generally accurate in differentiating various "threats".
Higher security means more staff resources in a correctional setting. Some of the types of restrictions that STG members face in correctional facilities could include: strip searches, frequent cell or living unit "shake downs" for contraband and weapons, cancellation of good time/work time credits, visiting restrictions (i.e., no contact visits), monitoring of mail and telephone communications, monitoring of the inmate's commissary account, and placing STG members in a special form of segregation. This is necessary because of the large rise in serious security threats behind bars today: riots, killings, forcible gang recruitment, assaults on staff, and a host of other problems that arise when dealing with the gang as a group identity.
Some jurisdictions now use what is called a "performance based housing" approach for STG management. It begs for a classification system that can be validated and used in other jurisdictions. In the performance based housing approach, only the highest risk or highest threat level of gang offenders are targeted for isolation from the general population of inmates, they are also separated from the "non-problem" gang members. There are higher restrictions in the high risk gang living unit, but time spent there is dependent on the behavior of the individual gang member. In this type of administrative segregation the "hard core" gang member receives only what constitutes legally mandated activities, they receive no privileges, it is "hard time".
Most STG coordinators also maintain gang intelligence file systems. But most STG coordinators do not carry out a quantitative classification system or threat analysis of the type we will illustrate here. However, it is a direction that STG coordinators can be expected to take in the future.
THE SIMULATION SCENARIO
What if our current sample of N = 1,015 gang members was really our current inmate STG population and we wanted to be able to "triage" or establish a classification system that could effectively manage this population? In other words, from a practical point of view: could we develop a simple but effective classification system (i.e., a threat analysis) that effectively managed risk in terms of its ability to show consistent patterns of risk along the gang classification system. It would have to be able to differentiate between the "least risk" and the "highest risk" or the hard core gang members.
Some previous research along these lines has suggested the merits of a "gang risk continuum", based on behavior and human life span development milestones of gang risk behavior. In fact, a logical extension of this is that gang membership itself is something that can be effectively predicted.
The simulation scenario explored here is whether a simple classification system can be used to achieve remarkable results in differentiating various gang member behavior risks. Thus, we will explain the simple formula below, and then actually apply this "threat analysis" rating system or classification system to the entire sample, and then see how well we would be able to "manage" this population if they were our inmates.
THE SIMPLE PROCEDURE: AN ADDITIVE SCALE
The threat analysis scale developed here is a gang classification system that varies from a low of zero to a high of three. The higher the numerical score, the higher the gang risk. Everyone begins by having a score of zero. Then three questions are asked:
(1) Are you still active in the gang, if yes, add one point;
(2) Have you ever held rank or a leadership position in the gang; if yes, add one point;
(3) Have you been in the gang for 6 or more years; if yes, add one point.
These three simple additive equations were used to create the computer simulation of a gang classification system. The current procedure involved adding existing data responses in a computer calculation that created a new variable GANGRISK. But this could have just as easily been done by interviewing each member as they entered the correctional facility, or assessing their records.
Thus, the lowest score one could get on this scale would be "zero" (lowest threat) and the highest score one could get would be "three" (highest threat). Applied to the current sample of N = 1,015 gang members, the results of this procedure were as follows in Figure 3.
What We Get From Applying The Three Questions
On A National Sample of N = 1,015 Gang Members
Gang Risk/Threat Analysis Classification
Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Sample: N=143 N=350 N=365 N=157
Percent: 14.1% 34.5% 36.0% 15.5%
Joined Gang? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Current member? None 1/3 2/3 All
(0%) (30%) (70%) (100%)
Ever hold rank? None 1/4 3/4 All
(0%) (25.8%) (78%) (100%)
Gang Tenure: <=5 years Varies Varies >=6 years
Figure 3 therefore breaks down the sample into four groups, Level Zero through Level Three. The hypothesis we are making here is that the Level Zero gang members will be significantly differentiated along the gang risk/threat levels consistently such that for all types of "gang risk" the lowest risk or threat will be found for Level Zero gang members and the highest will be found for Level Three gang members.
We have used this more simple classification method because it is most easily adaptable to the real world of corrections. We do have more effective models that would be preferred strategies, however. The reader is reminded that we are simply trying to illustrate the value of such an approach for the purpose of gang management in a simulation procedure.
Thus, our hypothesis is that the Level Zero group will be an "easy to handle" type of group, while the Level Three group will be a "very difficult to handle" group. We can now turn to our analysis to see if this simple procedure yields an effective strategy for classifying or triaging gang members in terms of their risk. "Risk" and "threat" can be a long list of factors and variables: and we have many in our data environment to analyze here from the present Project GANGECON research.
VALIDATING THE GANG RISK/THREAT CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
This is where analysis comes into play, as we must now examine the classification system in relationship to other known and measurable risks and threats. Table 4 presents the results of a number of such tests, applying "factors of risk" or "factors of threat" to the classification system.
Having developed the "classification system" with three simple questions; scored them in the simple procedure discussed (if yes, add one point); and then applied the overall additive scores (varying from zero to three); now we must see if this type of classification system would be able to consistently and significantly differentiate other known risks associated with gang life today. Table 4 presents the results of this analysis. Table 4 shows some 44 different factors or variables that are in fact significant and in addition 42 of these are also consistently differentiated by the classification system.
The term "significant" here means whether the Chi-square test statistic yields a probability level equal or less than .05; and the term "consistent" here means that the gradations of "risk" or "threat" all rise or fall in a monotone fashion up or down the scale as the case may be. In other words, if we had a variable measuring STAFFHIT ("have you ever actually assaulted a correctional employee?", Yes, No), then we would expect this to be the lowest for Level Zero (maybe %10), somewhat higher for Level One (maybe 20%), still increasing and somewhat higher for Level Two (maybe 35%), and consistently highest for Level Three (maybe 50%). The variable should not fluctuate along the classification risk dimension, but should be consistent in its risk or threat effects along the classification system, then it is consistent as a variable or factor that differentiates human behavior.
The reader is urged to examine Table 4 briefly or to refer back to it in the narrative discussion that now follows.
Table 4 shows 44 variables that were significant in relationship to the classification system and 42 of these were consistently differentiated by the simple gang risk/threat classification system we developed. The purpose of this section is to discuss the meaning of these variables in terms of validating such a scale or classification system. Generally, however, we find much evidence for the utility of such an approach.
Also, applying this to type of gang nation (People, Folks, Crips, Bloods, Other) yields no significant difference, thus it is not a classification system that is biased towards any particular gang. The test of the classification system by gang type was not significant (p = .44).
Percentage Distribution of Various Risk/Threat Factors
By the Gang Classification System
Gang Risk or Threat Classification
Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Percent agree "you cannot
expect justice through the
legal system". 51.5% 67.5% 69.7% 80.5%
Chi-square = 28.1, p <.001
Percent Anger Control
Problems: Get angry enough
to want to hit or hurt
someone at least once a day. 30.8% 44.8% 51.8% 50.6%
Chi-square = 35.0, p = .009
(BUT NOT FULLY CONSISTENT)
Percent Who have ever
collected protection money
on behalf of the gang. 9.8% 13.5% 28.0% 32.6%
Chi-square = 45.2, p < .001
Percent who have ever had to
pay a fine to the gang. 8.4% 14.9% 17.3% 27.0%
Chi-square = 19.7, p < .001
Percent who have served time
in a juvenile correctional
institution. 45.0% 57.3% 61.9% 66.8%
Chi-square = 17.0, p = .001
Percent who have a
permanent tattoo. 39.1% 56.0% 64.6% 71.9%
Chi-square = 40.2, p < .001
Percent who have ever
assaulted a school teacher. 26.9% 30.8% 36.2% 40.1%
Chi-square = 8.12, p = .04
Percent with five or more
close friends and associates
who are gang members. 51.4% 73.6% 84.3% 89.7%
Chi-square = 106.4, p < .001
Percent who report that
their gang operates
legitimate businesses. 28.0% 36.6% 56.5% 64.9%
Chi-square = 63.1, p <.001
Percent who report that
their gang requires members
to pay regular dues. 31.9% 34.2% 35.7% 48.3%
Chi-square = 11.0, p = .01
Percent who have ever
worked for a politician. 17.5% 20.1% 22.2% 36.3%
Chi-square = 19.5, p < .001
Percent who have ever
worked in voter registration. 5.1% 12.9% 13.9% 23.0%
Chi-square = 20.0, p <.001
Percent who have ever worked
as a "runner" in drug sales. 25.7% 35.1% 50.0% 63.4%
Chi-square = 57.3, p < .001
Percent who report that their
gang provides money to needy
members in or out of jail. 57.7% 71.9% 86.7% 91.9%
Chi-square = 68.0, p < .001
Percent who have ever committed
a crime for financial gain
with their gang. 40.8% 57.4% 68.0% 70.1%
Chi-square = 35.9, p <.001
Percent who report having ever
been fired from any job. 24.8% 25.5% 27.8% 38.7%
Chi-square = 9.80, p = .02
Percent who report they
own a car. 31.0% 40.0% 52.4% 60.2%
Chi-square = 34.1, p <.001
Percent who report they
own a motorscooter. 9.3% 11.7% 19.0% 20.8%
Chi-square = 13.4, p = .004
Percent who report they
own a SEGA genesis program. 59.2% 65.2% 72.4% 74.4%
Chi-square = 11.5, p = .009
Percent who report their
gang provides money to its
needy members. 49.5% 73.0% 84.9% 91.2%
Chi-square = 78.5, p <.001
Percent who report they
have ever been a pimp. 22.2% 28.1% 34.8% 38.9%
Chi-square = 12.1, p = .007
Percent who report their
gang has a private attorney
used for defending members. 26.2% 29.1% 38.5% 54.2%
Chi-square = 31.4, p < .001
Percent who report their
gang keeps an account that
pays for legal defense. 27.9% 28.6% 32.9% 45.4%
Chi-square = 13.4, p = .004
Percent who report that their
gang holds regular meetings. 70.4% 78.9% 86.0% 90.0%
Chi-square = 21.2, p <.001
Percent female 25.8% 17.3% 15.0% 6.2%
Chi-square = 19.3, p < .001
Percent who report their
mother has arrest record. 13.1% 14.8% 21.2% 23.0%
Chi-square = 8.74, p = .03
Percent who report they have
a cousin with arrest record. 44.2% 54.1% 62.8% 64.3%
Chi-square = 16.6, p = .001
Percent who report that they
have family members who are
gang members. 65.8% 73.1% 79.0% 87.0%
Chi-square = 19.3, p < .001
Percent willing to die for
their gang friends. 16.3% 40.0% 56.3% 55.0%
Chi-square = 77.4, p <.001
BUT NOT CONSISTENT EFFECT
Percent believing their gang
friends will die for them. 27.8% 42.6% 60.2% 66.1%
Chi-square = 63.1 p < .001
Percent who report they spend
extra money on night clubs. 14.6% 20.0% 22.3% 33.5%
Chi-square = 15.3, p = .002
Percent who report that their
gang has a treasury. 42.2% 49.4% 63.9% 77.6%
Chi-square = 43.8, p <.001
Percent who report that they
have ever committed a crime on
the property or inside an
apartment of a public housing
project. 24.7% 38.7% 42.4% 50.3%
Chi-square = 18.8, p < .001
Percent who report that they
have ever been violated
(received a beating) by
their own gang. 23.2% 33.2% 38.8% 41.1%
Chi-square = 11.5, p = .009
Percent who report that they
have ever used a police radio
scanner while doing a crime. 32.2% 34.1% 50.9% 62.7%
Percent who report that they
have ever engaged in "shakedowns"
(i.e., offering protection)
of small businesses. 18.5% 24.9% 29.2% 36.3%
Chi-square = 11.0, p = .01
Percent who believe that if
the police were continually
stopping and searching gang
members in a certain area that
the gang would move its
operations elsewhere. 56.1% 47.7% 42.2% 30.5%
Chi-square = 18.3, p < .001
Percent who report that they
have ever used a motel or
hotel for drug sales. 28.0% 41.0% 47.3% 50.3%
Chi-square = 16.2, p = .001
Percent who report that they
would still carry a gun in
their car if they knew the
car would be confiscated. 23.8% 33.0% 40.4% 54.1%
Chi-square = 27.9, p <.001
Percent who report that the
fear of going to prison affects
whether or not they would
commit a serious crime. 58.2% 44.9% 38.2% 36.0%
Chi-square = 16.7, p = .001
Percent who report that the
gang they belong to engages
in legal business activities
such as auto repair, etc. 30.9% 39.3% 59.6% 67.1%
Chi-square = 51.8, p < .001
Percent who report that they
have brothers or sisters from
their family that belong to
the same gang. 22.5% 37.4% 45.0% 45.3%
Chi-square = 19.6, p < .001
Percent who report that the
gang they belong to spends
its treasury money on guns. 60.4% 65.5% 74.2% 75.5%
Chi-square = 11.1, p = .01
Percent who report that the
gang they belong to spends
its treasury money
on funerals. 41.2% 49.8% 60.9% 66.6%
Chi-square = 21.4, p < .001
It is also important to note that the Level Zero group showed that 80.5 percent had tried to quit the gang by a separate question to that effect, further validating this as an "inactive" group or one with a lower risk factor.
SUMMARY OF THREAT ANALYSIS RESULTS
Table 4 shows a number of attitudinal factors that can be taken as measures of risk which are significantly and consistently differentiated along the gang risk/threat classification system. There are also a cluster of experiential or background factors that define how "hardened" or experienced a gang member is. There are also specific factors of violence propensity. There are also social factors about gang life itself, in relationship to friends and family. Finally, there are also factors of "gang sophistication" that also emerge here. All of these sets of factors are discussed below in reference to Table 4.
The variable for lack of belief in the legal system shows its lowest risk (51.5%) with the Level Zero group and the highest with the Level Three group (80.5%). The anger control variable is significant across the classification system, but it is not consistent in its incremental effects along the classification dimension. Other factors include:
*** Percent not deterred by aggressive police measures (i.e., percent who believe that if the police were
continually stopping and searching gang members in
a certain area that this would not make the gang
move its operations elsewhere).
*** Percent not deterred by the fear of going to
prison (i.e., fear of prison does not affect
whether they would commit a serious crime).
Experiential or Background Factors
Table 4 shows the gang classification system is able to consistently differentiate a host of experiential or background factors often taken into account in security classification system. These include the following:
*** Having ever collected protection money for the gang.
*** Having ever paid a fine to the gang.
*** Having ever served time in a juvenile institution.
*** Percent having a permanent tattoo.
*** Percent who have ever worked for a politician.
*** Percent who have ever worked in voter registration.
*** Percent who have ever been fired from a job.
*** Percent who report they have ever been a pimp.
*** Percent who are female (inverse relationship).
*** Percent who have committed a crime in public
Specific Factors of Violence Propensity
Table 4 shows the gang classification system is able to significantly and consistently differentiate several variables that may be considered factors of violence propensity. These include the following:
*** Percent who have ever assaulted a school teacher.
*** Percent who believe their gang friends are willing
to die for them.
*** Percent who report they have ever engaged in
"shakedowns" (i.e., offering protection)
of small businesses.
*** Percent who would still carry a gun in their car even if they knew the car would be confiscated.
*** Percent who report that their gang spends its
treasury money to buy guns.
*** Percent who report that their gang spends its
treasury money to pay for funerals.
Factors Related to Gang Friends and Family
Table 4 shows the gang classification system is able to significantly and consistently differentiate several variables relating to the social life of the individual, that is factors relating to gang friends, and the family. These include the following:
*** Percent who have five or more close friends and
associates who are gang members.
*** Percent who report their mother has previously
*** Percent who report they have a cousin who has
previously been arrested.
*** Percent who report that they have family members
who are also gang members.
*** Percent who report having been "violated" by
their own gang.
*** Percent who report they have brothers or sisters
from their own family who belong to the same gang.
Factors of Criminal Gang Sophistication
Table 4 shows that the gang classification system is also sensitive enough to be able to significantly and consistently differentiate differences in the organizational sophistication and organizational capabilities of the gang as an organization. These factors include the following:
*** Percent who report their gang operates legitimate
*** Percent who report their gang requires members to
pay regular dues.
*** Percent who have ever worked as a runner in a
retail drug sales operation.
*** Percent who report their gangs provides money
to needy members in or out of jail/prison.
*** Percent who have ever committed a crime for
financial gain with their gang.
*** Percent who report their gang provides money to
its needy members.
*** Percent who report their gang has a private attorney it uses for defending members.
*** Percent who report their gang keeps an account
that pays for legal defense.
*** Percent that report their gang holds regular meetings.
*** Percent who report that their gang maintains
*** Percent who report having ever used a police
radio scanner while doing a crime.
*** Percent who have used a motel or hotel for
illegal drug sales operations.
*** Percent who report their gang engages in
legal business activities.
Other Factors: Economic.
*** Percent who report they own a car.
*** Percent who report they own a motorscooter.
*** Percent who report they own a SEGA genesis game.
*** Percent who report they spend their individual
extra income on night clubs.
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
The summary of results from testing the classification system in relationship to various "risk" or "threat" factors in this large national sample certainly deserves more discussion that we have provided here. However, our overall report is also directed at many other issues, this being only one of the concerns. We will, though, now come to some summation on the matter of security/threat group classification, and whether this particular simulation would have been a valuable way of "handling" or managing a gang population.
What this technique does is similar to the prediction methods of Burgess and others in the Chicago school of sociology, where by examining everything from marriage to recidivism it is possible to establish "base rates" for such risks, and then examine in detail the factors that are highly associated with these outcomes being predicted. In the format used here it is not pure prediction research, it is more in line with an actuarial approach such as an insurance company might use. The tests are therefore bivariate, not multivariate in nature.
The question, then, does such a simple classification system as we formulated for test purposes here, really have any valid application to gang management? We say yes. The issue is preventing violence, limiting risk, reducing risk, reducing morbidity, injuries, and mortality; and Table 4 shows how a wide number of other risks (42 in all) were significantly and consistently differentiated by the simple gang risk/threat classification used for test purposes. We want to reiterate we are not advocating such a simplistic classification system, but rather we used one that was very "elementary" for purposes of the scenario test made here. The fact is even an elementary system can work to achieve valid uses.
SECTION VI: THE GANG ORGANIZATION AS THE UNIT OF ANALYSIS
The First Real Comparison of the
Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords
The gang itself can be used as the unit of analysis in the present research because the large sample of gang members in the present research project allows not only for specific gang identification, but the pooling of such gang members into subsamples of the same gang. Up to this point in this report the gang member or the gang member's alliance has been the unit of analysis. We now switch analytical gears slightly to use the specific identity of the gang organization itself as the unit of analysis. Again, to our knowledge, because most past gang research has used small samples this is the first effort we are aware of that is able to really "profile" individual gang organizations.
Further, it will be seen that what we are able do here is provide what might also be the first real comparison of two gangs: Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords. The importance of such an analysis is described below.
GANGSTER DISCIPLES AND VICE LORDS
There are N = 109 Gangster Disciples and there are N = 91 Vice Lords in our sample where the respondents indicated this specific organizational gang identity in their own writing, in addition to self-reporting gang membership (i.e., having ever joined a gang). The Vice Lords does include a variety of subfactions including Insane Mafia Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Unknown Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Traveller Vice Lords, and the Four Corner Hustlers in our sample. Thus, we can select for special analysis here a sample of N = 109 Gangster Disciples and a sample of N = 91 Vice Lords for purposes of comparison.
What is the relevance of such a comparison between specific gang organizations? First, the obvious value is that when the gang members explain it themselves they are always different than the "opposition". A Vice Lord calls a Gangster Disciple a "glazed donut" as a put down. A Gangster Disciple calls a Vice Lord a "Vicky Louse" as a put down. The rivalry and enmity has existed between these two gangs for decades.
Everyone knows by now that Gangster Disciples are "folks" and Vice Lords are "peoples". Everyone knows by now that important symbolic differences exist between these two type of gangs. The Vice Lords have a "five pointed star", the Gangster Disciples have a "six pointed star". The Gangster Disciples wear their hat to the right, the Vice Lords wear their hat to the left. Gangster Disciples wear "blue" colors, Vice Lords wear "red" colors. But are these little more than intentional forms of symbolic differences that mask an overwhelming commonality in origin, structure, function, purpose, and experience?
Let us re-phrase the issue slightly: Vice Lords kill Gangster Disciples and vice versa in an endless wave of violent rivalry in the United States, both originated in Chicago, and both have several decades of experience as gang organizations. Both are now nationally represented throughout the United States in many areas, urban, suburban, and rural; because both of these two types of gangs have been a part of the national explosion and proliferation of gangs.
Both of these two types of rival gangs have written constitutions and by-laws (see Knox, 1995; An Introduction to Gangs), which are quite different admittedly.
Both of these two types of gangs have different types of prayers and beliefs they espouse to their members in their internal social organizational functions.
But in a situation where nearly 200 different variables can be examined about gang life, the organizational capability of gang life, the "dangerousness" of the gang members, the attitudes of the gang members, and a variety of other factors studied in the present Project GANGECON research project --- if we compared these two types of gang organizations, what would we find? The answer is a really short story.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GANGSTER DISCIPLES AND VICE LORDS
We refer the reader to Appendix A for a copy of the full instrument. This actually contains nearly 200 different variables. We carried out a complete item analysis for all variables comparing Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords. Let us try and put this picture into clearer analytical perspective.
In probability theory, when we are using the traditional ".05" probability level to classify a difference as being statistically significant, what we are saying is that in less than or equal to (<= .05) five times out of 100 would this result occur by chance alone. So if 200 tests are being made, about ten might be expected by chance alone to be significant at the .05 level.
So if each and every question on the long survey, containing about 200 different variables, is in fact analyzed and comparisons are made between Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, we might expect about ten test results to be significant at the .05 level. How many of the tests in a complete item analysis comparing Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords came up significant at the .05 level in the present study? Only 10 valid tests appeared significant! Two others (race and reason for joining the gang) were significant, but this was spuriously dependent on the fact that more than one-fifth of the fitted cells were sparse (frequency < 5).
It is further important to note that the strength of these relationships (for the 10 variables where significance, p <= .05, did occur) was in no case very strong (i.e., p < .001).
While the reader may be very well able to anticipate our conclusion at this point, we will proceed to describe these few significant differences that emerged in comparing Gangster Disciples with Vice Lords.
Slightly Higher Anger Control For Gangster Disciples
Table 5 shows the anger control variable is significantly differentiated by knowing the respondent is a Gangster Disciple or a Vice Lord. The two top categories (one or more times a day) are not vastly different (Gangster Disciples 49.5%; Vice Lords 41.1%). The real difference is in the top category: wanting to hit or hurt someone two or more times a day. Here we see 49.5 percent of the Gangster Disciples fit in this category, compared to only 41.1 percent of the Vice Lords.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF ANGER CONTROL VARIABLE
BY GANGSTER DISCIPLES OR VICE LORDS RESPONDENTS
How often do you really get
angry at someone? This means
wanting to hit or hurt
2 or more times a day 42 18
Once a day 11 19
2-3 times a week 16 10
Once a week 2 6
2-3 times a month 10 6
Once a month 7 8
Less than once a month 19 23
Chi-square = 15.2, p = .01
Difference in Terms of Being A Currently Active Member
Table 6 shows another significant difference between Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords. What this basically shows is this: 63.3 percent of the Gangster Disciples are current members, compared with 80.8 percent of the Vice Lords. More members of the Gangster Disciples appear to drop out and become inactive is what this suggests.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF:
BEING A CURRENT MEMBER OR ASSOCIATE OF THE GANG
BY WHETHER THE RESPONDENT WAS A
GANGSTER DISCIPLE OR VICE LORD
Are you currently a member
or associate of any gang
group or gang organization?
NO 40 17
YES 69 72
Chi-square = 7.40, p = .007
Gangster Disciples Operate More Businesses
Table 7 shows that Gangster Disciples appear to be more likely to operate have or own legitimate businesses it operates than do the Vice Lords. That is, 60.4 percent of the Gangster Disciple respondents report their gang operates legitimate businesses, compared to 42.6 percent for Vice Lord respondents.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF GANG ABILITY TO
OWN AND OPERATE LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES BY
WHETHER THE RESPONDENT WAS
GANGSTER DISCIPLE OR VICE LORD
Does the gang you belong
to have any legitimate
businesses it operates?
NO 38 51
YES 58 38
Chi-square = 5.80, p = .01
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF OTHER SIGNIFICANT VARIABLES
BY WHETHER THE GANG MEMBER RESPONDENT WAS
GANGSTER DISCIPLE OR VICE LORD
Does the gang you are in
require members to
pay regular dues? NO 40 54
YES 62 37
Percent Yes 60.7% 40.6%
Chi-square = 7.79, p = .005
If you have ever worked
in voter registration,
who were you asked by
to do this work?
Gang Leader 12 4
Local Politician 9 13
Chi-square = 4.35, p = .03
Does your gang provide
money to needy members in
or out of jail/prison?
NO 6 14
YES 88 72
Percent Yes 93.6% 83.7%
Chi-square = 4.45, p = .03
Under What Kind of Things
Do you Personally Own
Yourself: Do you
own a computer? NO 57 62
YES 44 21
Percent Yes 43.5% 25.3%
Chi-square = 6.65, p = .01
For Males: Have you
Fathered a Child? NO 35 23
YES 42 54
Percent Yes 54.5 70.1
Chi-square = 3.98, p = .04
Do you think your gang
friends would die for you?
NO 46 37
YES 30 40
DOES NOT APPLY 12 3
Percent Yes 34.0% 50.0%
Chi-square = 7.44, p = .02
Have you ever been
violated (received a
beating) by your own
gang for a violation?
NO 56 38
YES 34 45
Percent Yes 37.7% 54.2%
Chi-square = 4.70, p = .03
Disciples Pay More Dues
Table 8, which provides the findings for the rest of the factors, shows one can expect a somewhat increased likelihood of having to pay dues on a regular basis in the Gangster Disciples (60.7%) than in the Vice Lords gang (40.6%).
Who They Worked For in Voter Registration
Recall that two other questions about politics were in the item pool that were not significant, but the one about who asked them to work in Voter Registration was, as seen in Table 8. All this shows is that in the Gangster Disciples it was more likely to be the gang leader who asked them to put in this work, while in the Vice Lords it was more likely to be a local politician.
Gangster Disciples: Better Welfare Program?
Table 8 shows 93.6 percent of the Gangster Disciples report their gang provides money to its needy members in our out of jail/prison, compared to 83.7 percent of the Vice Lords. A slight edge is what this shows.
Gangster Disciples Have More Computers
Table 8 shows that 43.5 percent of the Gangster Disciples claim to own computers compared to only a fourth (25.3%) of the Vice Lords.
Vice Lord Males Have Higher Fertility
Table 8 shows that among the male members 70.1 percent of the Vice Lords have fathered a child compared to 54.5 percent in the Gangster Disciples.
Vice Lords More Likely to Believe Their Gang Friends Will Die For Them.
Table 8 shows that half of the Vice Lords (50%) felt that their gang friends would die for them, compared to 34 percent of the Gangster Disciples.
Vice Lords Also Get More Violations
Some 54.2 percent of the Vice Lords report they have been violated, compared with 37.7 percent of the Gangster Disciples.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Some prior contributions to the literature on gangs have suggested the merits of trying to find out what different gangs like the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, or People and Folks, might have in common. For example:
"...there are some similarities among the gangs --- and quite possibly, these similarities may offer guidelines for positive action. These similarities are most striking when we look at their interaction with city institutions over the years." Joan Moore, p. 4, People and Folks (Hagedorn, 1988).
The study by Hagedorn was not able to speak to quantitative differences of the scope and magnitude investigated here in terms of any differences or commonalities between "people" and "folks". The present research has this capability and we believe it was the first contribution of its kind along these lines, where a specific gang organization is treated as the unit of analysis with a wide range of organizational functioning, membership, and other variables.
However, we are still searching for the "good news" here. The overwhelming commonality between these two historically rival gangs does not allow for rejecting the idea that these two gangs could easily merge as one: and find they have little if any individual differences. We do not believe that would be the good news either, as it would be the gang-merging/consolidating scenario. A bigger, more sophisticated, conglomerate version of what previously existed as independent problems could hardly be considered a potential piece of good news. But is it a possibility, sure it is.
We think the differences rather than the commonalities provide the only clue to what might constitute the good news of possible guidelines for positive action. Figure 4 below provides a summary of the differences between the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords. And here is the only good news we could squeeze out of this: it would be this --- the scenario where a parent knew their son was going to join a gang, is there a "lesser" of the two evils? Perhaps might be answer, with some very major qualifications.
Figure 4 looks at the upside and the downside of the two types of gangs for the only differences that were found between them in examining almost 200 different variables. The down side to joining the GD's is the youth will have to pay dues, more so than in the Vice Lords, and of course perhaps more anger control problems. But look at the "pluses":
Factors 1 through 7 in Figure 4 might have clear-cut positive or negative distinctions. However, we see only dubious value to factors 8 through 10. When we shared these results in Figure 4 with a focus group that was given the charge: "assume you are a anti-gang counselor, a mother lives in an area where there is really no choice, her son is going to join a gang, the only question she has is which is the lesser of the two evils....if the two gangs were the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords and you the counselor were asked to recommend one, which would you pick?", most recommended the kid be allowed to join the Gangster Disciples. Their logic? Higher dues, but easier to extract from, a lower probability of violence from their own gang (i.e., violations), and the "plus" signs on Figure 4 generally.
SUMMARY OF DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE GANGSTER DISCIPLES AND VICE LORDS
Positive/dubious benefits ********* *****
1. Less Anger Control Problem +
More Anger Control Problem _
2. More Likely To Become Inactive +
Less Likely to Become Inactive -
3. More Legitimate Business +
4. Less Legitimate Business -
4. Less Likely to Have to
Regularly Pay Dues +
Dues: more likely -
5. Gang Helps Members in Jail +
Less Likely to Help Members -
6. More Members Own Computers +
Fewer Members Own Computers -
7. Less Likely to be Violated +
More Likely to be Violated -
8. More Likely To Father Child +-
9. More Believe Their Gang
Friends Would Die for them +-
10. Voter Registration Work
More Likely To Be At the
Direction of the Gang Leader +-
Voter Registration Work More
Likely to be at the Direction
of a Local Politician +-
LEGEND: "+" = presumed positive benefit
"+-" = Dubious positive benefit
SECTION VII: Predicting Defection
Among Gang Members: Who Would Snitch?
Loyalty to the gang and one's fellow gang members is considered the supreme social value in much of gang life today. In some gangs like the Gangster Disciples, or Disciples generally, one of the "six points" of the Star of David, their symbol used, actually refers to the word "LOYALTY". To our knowledge, again, no previous research has systematically examined this issue very closely. The purpose of this section, therefore, is to examine what factors seem to differentiate this type of potential defection from the gang. An effort is also made to develop a prediction model of gang snitching behavior.
WHAT SNITCHING MEANS
Recall from earlier analysis in this report that three different forced choice items were designed around the issue of gang defection. All measured whether, under the right conditions, the respondent would "flip": that is testify against the gang. These are measures of the tendency of such gang members to actually become police informants, rather than loyal gang members.
One thing we do know about gang life is from the legal history surrounding the prosecution of gang leaders. Successful criminal prosecution requires good informants, and the best are those with immediate knowledge of gang operations. Of all the types of research that might possible help law enforcement and prosecution, and other agencies, in a practical way, this line of inquiry into gang defection would have seemed a natural research need by funding sources such as the National Institute of Justice. Perhaps it is the simple lack of knowledge about this aspect of gang life that has prevented any advance along this line of knowledge development.
Neither practical research from traditional sources of criminal justice information (i.e., NIJ) nor basic, nor theoretical research has yet to shed light on this issue that has so much importance to gang life today. It is this matter of the tendency towards defection that bears so much importance. Many today consider gangs a formidable threat to the internal security of the United States. Recently the Chicago Crime Commission declared street gangs as "Public Enemy Number One", likening them to new forms of organized crime. None of the qualitative or ethnomethodological studies of gang members have shed light on the issue of gang snitching behavior.
The fact is, however, gang members as snitches is a major aspect of gang life. Examine the transcript of the Ethnic Rulers gang in Appendix C to see the case where one member was thought to be "snitching", and the gang investigator immediately swung into action. The gang argot used in the Appendix C transcript of actual official records from one major Chicago gang used the phrase "tricking", not "snitching", but it means the same thing.
The use of informers as a regular strategy for the containment and control of gangs behind bars is a longstanding practice and policy in adult and juvenile correctional institutions. Inmates call them snitches, rats, and a number of other terms of much derision, because in the criminal subculture nothing brings more loathing than an informer. It is regarded as the greatest form of treachery to snitch. Among inmates, criminals, and gang members alike, in their value system there is nothing lower than a "snitch".
Yet we know remarkably little about this type of behavior of offenders who are also informants. Such reliable information about this aspect of the criminal world is lacking in both mainstream criminology and in the more specialized area of study that includes gang research. Snitching is double-deviance, it is a deviant behavior among deviants, and we will not find much knowledge about this type of individual behavior in the sociological literature on deviance.
Snitching means defecting from the group identity, or being willing to defect in the case of gang life. A gang member who under the right set of conditions would snitch is a great liability to a gang organization. Consequently, most of the gangs will give a "Death V" or "death violation", a "Kill On Site" order, they will put a "money bag" ont such a person who is disloyal to their group, that is offer a reward for the death of the snitch.
HOW TOUGH IS IT TO SUPPRESS A GANG WHERE ONE-THIRD TO ONE-FOURTH OF THE MEMBERS WOULD SNITCH UNDER THE RIGHT CONDITIONS?
It is hard for the present researchers to logically reconcile the known high level of perceived "threat" represented by gangs today with the fact that our research also shows that from a fourth to a third of all gang members would snitch under the right conditions. Alternatively, we find it much easier to conclude based on new evidence that a major weakness exists in gang organizations today, and it is a weakness that could be exploited for very effective gang suppression: the availability of snitches. It is both a strategic and tactical intelligence issue of some magnitude to find that about a third of all gang members regardless of their gang would "rat" under the right condition.
Recall from the earlier findings presented in this report that we had three measures of snitching behavior, each having a different type of "reward structure". Let us briefly review these findings here for the entire nationwide gang sample.
One question in the survey asked "would you be willing to testify in a secret Grand Jury against a gang leader for $1,000 cash". Here we found 19.5 percent would take this deal.
A second question in the survey asked "would you be willing to testify in open court against a gang leader for $5,000 and witness protection services". Here, again, 19.9 percent would take this deal.
A third forced choice question in the survey asked "would you testify against someone in a gang if you were given complete immunity and all charges against you were dropped". Here we found that 32.3 percent of the entire national gang member sample would snitch under this condition. It simply means prosecutorial discretion, or "cutting a deal" to the snitch. For someone already in custody for a conviction it might mean time off for good behavior, or a special type of alternative custodial facility. Snitching for gang members is routine today in federal prosecution: why? Because it is one of the very few exceptions to the rule of mandatory sentencing guidelines. A snitch can get out a lot quicker is the bottom line here.
In the beginning of this report we presented some information from Prince, a well known gang snitch in law enforcement circles. Several of the present researchers have also had some interesting insight into the process of how gang members become snitches. One of the researchers was a volunteer in a G.E.D. training program, and one day a man in his 30's came to the tutoring session without his required "G.E.D. study guide" available in a nearby bookstore for about $25 dollars. The researcher asked him "how come you don't have the study guide by now if you want to get your G.E.D.?", where upon the man told the story of how he had just been released from Stateville Penitentiary and did not have the $25 dollars required to pay for the book. The man disappeared and showed up about three weeks later, and one of the researchers asked him "where have you been?", and the man indicated he had been arrested again this time by federal authorities, a warrant was served on the man and authorities found about eight kilos of cocaine and over $50,000 in cash in his apartment. The researcher could not resist asking him "the feds got $50,000 from you but you didn't have $5 dollars for the G.E.D. book is that right?".
But now the man was required to be in the G.E.D. program as a part of his release awaiting trial, he was also required to wear an electronic monitoring device. The man further described how he had achieved so much rank in a major Chicago gang while in prison, and he was willing to provide information about the gang. Several of the present researchers gladly accepted the information he provided. In fact, we invited him to a gang investigation/suppression training seminar we were providing at the time to law enforcement agencies in Illinois. He was willing to give a small talk about his gang, and even answer any questions the audience of police officers might have about his gang, if we would testify that he was deserving of some positive consideration at time of sentencing for him. As he certainly anticipated being convicted. He was caught dead cold with the goods.
A curious thing happened at the training seminar. Just prior to the gang member showing up to give his talk and spill the beans on the gang, some conversation began between one of the trainees, who asked "how much did you say was confiscated in drugs and money", and the researcher repeated it, to hear the officer say "that sounds familiar". Then during break the gang member arrives and the same officer undergoing training sees him and remarks "damn, that's the same guy I arrested".
The gang member and the researcher were there with the arresting police officer in the case. It was a coincidence only. But the gang member was there to snitch. When the police officer found out, however, he asked the gang member afterwards if he would be willing to go beyond a speech in a training seminar and testify against other gang leaders. The next thing we know is what we read in the papers. A lot of gang leaders were indicted. Two of the present researchers did then testify at the sentencing hearing of this gang member, to the effect he can certainly be considered an "ex-gang member" now that he has testified against his group. The gang member qualified for a life sentence but received about two years of federal time.
The moral of this story is that a couple of the present researchers simply stumbled across an opportunity to watch how a gang member makes the transition to becoming a police informant. It is not a very complicated process. The gang member was in a "jam" and he wanted a "deal". He had a young wife and a new baby and he did not want to spend the rest of his life in prison.
The present section of this report therefore seeks to focus on this type of snitching situation: where the gang member would testify against someone in the gang if they were given complete immunity and all charges against them were dropped. This is the classic "get out of jail free" option for criminal informants. Using informants is a very efficient and effective approach for gaining criminal convictions.
In the analysis that follows, therefore, we examine those factors from the present research on over 1,000 gang members nationwide, where we describe which factors significantly differentiate this type of snitching behavior among gang members.
FACTORS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENTIATING GANG SNITCHES
Table 9 provides the results of all variables from our survey that significantly differentiated gang members willing to turn "state's evidence" against the gang: that is testify against someone in a gang, provided of course they were able to "walk" (i.e., immunity and all charges dropped against them). The profile that emerges here is very consistent in some regards, and these overall consistencies need to be summarized here.
Generally, it is the "less hardcore" gang member who will "flip". Table 9 shows that snitching is inversely related to several measures of criminal history severity. For example, the lower the number of prior arrests, the greater the likelihood of snitching. Vice versa, the younger the age at first arrest, the less likelihood of snitching. The fewer the fights the person was involved in during the last year, the greater the likelihood of snitching. The fewer the years in gang life, the greater the likelihood of snitching. Those who have not served time as juveniles are more likely to snitch. Those who have become inactive in the gang are more likely to snitch. Those who have attempted to quit the gang are more likely to snitch. Those who ever joined the gang primarily for protection are the most likely to snitch. Those who are willing to die for their gang and who think their gang friends would die for them are much less likely to snitch. Those who have fired a gun at someone because of gang activity are much less likely to snitch.
So there is a consistent "hardening effect": the earlier the youth enters the criminal justice system, the greater the volume of the youths criminal arrest history, and the greater the commitment to gang life --- the lower the tendency towards defection. This is the difference, essentially, between factors measuring a "career" oriented gang member and the "novice" or less committed gang member.
Several other social factors emerged in Table 9 that are largely consistent as a social-history profile for those most likely to snitch. Someone that owns a car is actually less likely to snitch, while someone who owns a snowmobile is more likely to snitch. Perhaps it is the latent positive socialization impact of the American judicial system, but for whatever reason anyone who has "sued" someone in civil court for a wrong that was done to them are also more likely to snitch. There is also the "maturation hypothesis" that predicts gang members will "give up gang life" as they seek to start to raise their own families, and Table 9 shows that when a male gang member has fathered a child this is also a factor of maturation that is associated with a higher likelihood of snitching. Those who do not spend their extra money are clothes are similarly more likely to snitch. The perception of a greater population of conformists who are more powerful, as in the graffiti questions in Table 9, is also associated with a greater likelihood of snitching. That is, when the gang member does see some discouraging impact from citizen initiatives to remove graffiti, this is a factor associating with higher levels of the tendency towards defection. Similarly, all three police questions (i.e., about community policing) show that it is the person who recognizes the impact of such community policing strategies in terms of gang abatement or gang crime displacement capability, it is this person more positively disposed to recognize the power of police in their roles regarding community policing that gang members are most likely to snitch. Those gang members who consistently discount the effectiveness of community policing are the least likely to snitch, consistent with the hardening effect. For it is those who still have some fear of going to prison among whom we find the higher tendency to snitch.
Three other variables emerged in Table 9 as being significant in relationship to snitching, but they are not as easy to interpret regarding any consistent trend in the data. Those who used public telephones to conduct criminal activity were somewhat more likely to be willing to snitch, as were gang members who had ever targeted Asian or Arab small businesses for extortion.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTIONS FOR
VARIABLES SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENTIATING
WHETHER A GANG MEMBER WOULD TESTIFY AGAINST
SOMEONE IN A GANG IF THEY WERE GIVEN COMPLETE IMMUNITY
AND ALL CHARGES AGAINST THEM WERE DROPPED
Would You Testify If
Given Immunity and All
Charges Were Dropped?
Number of Prior Arrests: % Yes
<= 4 247 139 36.0%
>= 5 293 112 27.6%
Chi-square = 6.37, p = .01
Age at time of first arrest:
<= 13 283 106 27.2%
>= 14 251 139 35.6%
Chi-square = 6.36, p = .01
Have you ever served time in
a juvenile correctional inst.?
NO 206 122 37.1%
YES 359 146 28.9%
Chi-square = 6.25, p = .01
Number of fights in last year:
<= 4 230 135 36.9%
>= 5 290 113 28.0%
Chi-square = 7.01, p = .008
Number of years in the gang:
<= 4 212 141 39.9%
>= 4.5 250 83 24.9%
Chi-square = 17.5,p < .001
Are you currently a member or
associate of any gang group or
gang organization? NO 126 89 41.3%
YES 435 181 29.3%
Chi-square = 10.4, p = .001
What one reason comes closest to
describing why you first joined
To make money 132 59 30.8%
To be with friends 68 44 39.2%
A family member was in the gang 53 27 33.7%
Protection 9 13 59.0%
Grew up in it 227 81 26.2%
Believed in its teachings 49 25 33.7%
Chi-square = 15.1, p = .01
Have you ever attempted to
quit the gang? NO 342 127 27.0%
YES 210 136 39.3%
Chi-square = 13.6, p <.001
Do you own a car? NO 284 156 35.4%
YES 277 112 28.7%
Chi-square = 4.19, p = .04
Do you own a snowmobile? NO 510 228 30.8%
YES 35 30 46.1%
Chi-square = 6.37, p = .01
Do you think that gangs exploit
their members over money? NO 394 141 26.3%
YES 150 115 43.3%
Chi-square = 23.6, p < .001
Have you ever sued anyone in
civil court for a "wrong" that
was done to you? NO 494 217 30.5%
YES 69 48 41.0%
Chi-square = 5.09, p = .02
Males: Have you fathered a
child? NO 238 95 28.5%
YES 202 115 36.2%
Chi-square = 4.45 p = .03
Are you willing to die for
your gang friends? NO 214 148 40.8% YES 278 76 21.9%
DOES NOT APPLY 37 24 39.3%
Chi-square = 32.7, p < .001
Do you think your gang friends
would die for you? NO 187 122 39.4%
YES 295 101 25.5%
DOES NOT APPLY 46 33 41.7%
Chi-square = 18.7, p < .001
Do you spend your extra money
on clothes? NO 171 102 37.3%
YES 391 164 29.5%
Chi-square = 5.12, p = .02
Have you ever fired a gun at
someone because of gang activity?
NO 156 95 37.8%
YES 389 160 29.1%
Chi-square = 6.01, p = .01
Do you use public telephones to
conduct criminal activity? NO 353 141 28.5%
YES 197 120 37.8%
Chi-square = 7.67, p = .006
When citizens remove gang graffiti
does that discourage the gang
from further activity in the area?
NO 472 202 29.9%
YES 76 55 41.9%
Chi-square = 7.28, p = .007
When gang graffiti is repeatedly
removed as quickly as it is put
up does that discourage the gang
from further activity in the area?
NO 435 190 30.4%
YES 105 66 38.5%
Chi-square = 4.13, p = .04
Shakedowns (i.e., offering
protection) of small businesses:
would you most likely target
a business owned by Asians? NO 149 63 29.7%
YES 52 39 42.8%
Chi-square = 4.92, p = .02
Shakedowns (i.e., offering
protection) of small businesses:
would you most likely target
a business owned by Arabs? NO 146 60 29.1%
YES 58 43 42.5%
Chi-square = 5.49, p = .01
Would you like to live in a
neighborhood where everyone
knew the police officer and the
police knew all persons who
lived there? NO 411 145 26.0%
YES 132 119 47.4%
Chi-square = 35.7, p < .001
Do you think that if police
spent more time walking the
beat in the neighborhood it
would reduce crime and drug
sales? NO 351 111 24.0%
YES 195 150 43.4%
Chi-square = 34.1, p < .001
If the police were continually
stopping and searching gang
members in a certain area do
you think the gang would move
its operations elsewhere? NO 330 113 25.5%
YES 209 141 40.2%
Chi-square = 19.6, p < .001
Does the fear of going to prison
affect whether or not you would
commit a serious crime? NO 340 111 24.6%
YES 191 145 43.1%
Chi-square = 30.1, p < .001
SUMMARY OF THE FACTORS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENTIATING SNITCHES AMONG GANG MEMBERS
Figure 5 below summarizes the strongest factors that significantly differentiate snitching behavior among gang members.
FACTORS WITH HIGHEST SNITCH RATES
Factor or Variable Effect on Snitching Prob.
Fewer years in the gang 39.9% would snitch < .001
Tried to quit the gang 39.3% would snitch < .001
Believe gangs exploit
members over money 43.3% would snitch < .001
Not willing to die
for the gang 40.8% would snitch < .001
Gang friends won't die
for them 39.4% would snitch < .001
Would like a hood where
police knew everyone 47.4% would snitch < .001
Would like a hood where
police walked beats 43.4% would snitch < .001
Believe proactive police
displace gangs 40.2% would snitch < .001
Fear of prison affects
doing a serious crime 43.1% would snitch < .001
Fewer fights in the
last year 36.9% would snitch .008
Currently inactive in
the gang 41.3% would snitch .001
Uses public phones for
criminal activity 37.8% would snitch .006
Believes graffiti removal
discourages the gang 41.9% would snitch .007
We have not included the reason of joining a gang for "protection" even though it showed the actual highest rate of snitching (59%), because according to our data very few gang members join for this reason. And therefore it has such a small "base rate" that it is not going to be of value in predicting snitching behavior.
The profile that emerges in Figure 5, for those variables or factors from Table 9 with the stronger actual relationships, is that this tendency towards defection is greatest for the less hard core gang member. The ability to not only tell who is or who is not a hardcore gang member (i.e., the gang risk/threat continuum) is an ability to use a classification system to manage the risk of the gang member population. The ability to identify potential defectors along this continuum would be an ability to more effectively investigate, prosecute, and suppress gang activity.
CAN SNITCHES BE IDENTIFIED IN THE GANG POPULATION?
The issue here is taking the scenario where we have a large number of gang members (i.e., the present national sample of gang members) and we want to try and identify those who would be snitches. In other words, can the tendency towards defection be predicted effectively among gang members? The simulation explored here, therefore, is where we would systematically "debrief" the gang member population for certain specific questions (i.e., those from the survey) in order to predict who would or who would not snitch, and be able to ascertain the ability of these predictor variables to correctly classify snitches and non-snitches in the gang population.
PREDICTING DEFECTION AMONG GANG MEMBERS
Snitching on the gang is the most clear-cut measure of defecting from the gang. Someone who testifies against the gang is someone we can really consider an "ex" gang member, at least they will not be active in that gang anymore. The statistical technique used here to predict snitching is discriminant analysis. The outcome being predicted here is the variable measuring whether the gang member would testify against someone in a gang if they were given complete immunity and all charges were dropped against the snitch.
The way a prediction result is evaluated as being useful is the extent to which it correctly classifies all gang members in terms of the "predicted situation" in relationship to the "actual situation".
Several models were examined in terms of discriminant analysis and one model is presented here in Table 10. As seen in Table 10, however, only 67.9 percent of the cases are correctly classified by this prediction equation using four variables. Thus, only about two-thirds of the gang member sample in this model can be correctly predicted to snitch or not snitch.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF PREDICTED TO SNITCH
BY WHETHER RESPONDENT WOULD ACTUALLY SNITCH
Predicted Condition Would Not Would
Would Not Snitch 270 70
Would Snitch 95 80
Percent of cases correctly classified: 67.9%
The variables used in Table 10 were: (1) "would you like to live in a neighborhood where everyone knew the police officer and the police knew all persons who lived there", (2) "do you think that if police spent more time walking the beat in the neighborhood it would reduce crime and drug sales", (3) "do you think gangs exploit their members over money", and (4) "does the fear of going to prison affect whether or not you would commit a serious crime". Deceptive patterns (anyone with five or more close friends and associates who also claimed to be "inactive"; anyone who inconsistently reported their gang as providing money to its needy members; anyone inconsistently reporting having no family members as gang members and then later indicates a sibling in the same or rival gang) were eliminated for the sample analyzed here. But it still is not much better than "chance alone" (50 percent) in terms of prediction.
Snitches are not always good news for those who work in criminal justice, but are uniformly viewed as a tremendous asset. We simply remind the reader of how some larger gang organizations have adapted to the predictable tendency of some officials to be positively disposed towards snitching behavior. This is the situation where in custody, or out of custody, a gang may have one of its members approach someone in authority (i.e., a correctional officer in the custody situation) and offer hot information (i.e., inmate Joe Grabber has drugs in his cell). However, we are aware from other research now underway by the NGCRC on how gang members corrupt correctional officers that this is a common technique to gain the confidence of a correctional officer by appearing to "flip", when it is really a "double agent" situation: the gang member actually "set up" the other inmate (i.e., Joe Grabber) because the other inmate was a rival gang member, and in the process the correctional officer unwittingly comes to offer special privileges to the snitch and provides other information to the snitch that can be used in a more elaborate scheme to subvert institutional security.
All gang members know what a "dry snitch" is, this is someone with a big mouth, who informally in conversation lets out critical information that is equivalent to snitching. The "dry snitch" is someone who cannot keep a secret of the gang organization. That is, the "dry" snitch does not intentionally snitch, it is strictly just a human weakness.
We must therefore offer into our criminological vocabulary another category of "snitches": the "wet snitch". The wet snitch is the scenario of the "double agent". Where what may appear to be pro-social behavior is actually a ruse for the gang to gain some advantage. The "wet snitch" does snitch intentionally and with a calculated purpose. The "wet snitch" is a known and existing phenomenon in gang life today. The "wet snitch" is a liability, not an asset.
Our research was not specifically designed to predict gang snitches, it was an analytical opportunity that arose because of the large gang sample we had to work with. A number of factors do appear to significantly differentiate snitches from non-snitches in the gang population. However, the prediction model for identifying gang snitches was able to correctly classify only about two-thirds of the cases.
FACTORS OF EMPLOYMENT - Jobs and Gang Problems
The role of employment has not enjoyed a strong analysis in relationship to various other gang problems in the extant literature. Little is actually known about these factors of employment among gang members, and even less attention has focused on the employment status of the parents of gang members. The purpose of this section of the report, therefore, is to investigate the extent to which the employment status of parents impacts on the gang problems of their children (i.e., the N = 1,015 gang members in the present analysis). This section will also examine employment experiences of the gang members themselves as well as a variable of perceived closure in the legitimate opportunity structure.
THE FOUR MEASURES OF EMPLOYMENT AND LEGITIMATE OPPORTUNITY
The sample used for analysis here consists of N = 1,015 gang members from different social contexts in multiple sites in five states (California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio). Four different measures of employment and legitimate opportunity will be used in the analysis here. These four factors are as follows: (1) Father's employment status, (2) Mother's employment status, (3) Whether the gang member has ever held a part-time job, and (4) Whether the gang member perceives closure in the legitimate opportunity structure.
(1) Father's employment. This variable is measured by the question in the survey that asks "Which best describes your father?" and the respondent has two forced-choice response modes: "___Has a regular job ___Has no regular job". Some missing data will obviously exist for this variable where the respondent in some situations would not know. This missing data therefore excludes from analysis those respondents who would remark "I never knew my father".
In the overall analysis of this item in the entire gang member sample, there were N = 897 cases. Thus, data is missing on this for about 100 cases. However, among the N = 897 gang members who did answer this question, some 70.8 percent (N = 635) indicated that their father does have a regular job. Similarly, some 29.2 percent (N = 262) indicated their father does not have a regular job.
(2) Mother's employment. This variable is measured by the question in the survey that asks "Which best describes your mother?" and the respondent has two forced-choice response modes: "___Has a regular job ___Has no regular job". Some missing data will exist for this variable where the respondent would mark on the survey instrument "she is dead".
In the overall analysis of this item, data is available for a vast majority of the respondents (N = 968). The trend in the data for all gang members nationally was that 72.7 percent (N = 704) indicated their mother has a regular job. Similarly, just over a fourth (27.3%, N = 264) indicated their mother does not have a regular job.
(3) The variable measuring employment experiences of the gang members themselves comes from the question in the survey instrument that asked them "have you ever held a part-time job". With a "yes" or "no" response pattern, data for this variable is available for a national sample of N = 916 gang members. The trend nationwide was that 31.2 percent indicated they have never held a part-time job (N = 286). The trend was also that about two-thirds of the gang members (68.8%, N = 630) do indicate that they have had some employment opportunity in terms of ever having held a part-time job.
(4) The variable measuring perceived closure in the legitimate opportunity structure was available for almost the entire gang sample (N = 1009). This variable comes from the question on the survey instrument that asked "have you ever felt shut out of an education or trade training" and involved a simple "yes" or "no" forced-choice response mode. Nationwide, some 50.6 percent (N = 511) indicated they had not felt shut out of an education or trade training. Nationwide, about half (49.4%, N = 498) did feel some degree of perceived closure, by indicating that they did in fact feel shut out of an education or trade training. The analysis that follows therefore examines a variety of other gang problems in relationship to these employment and legitimate opportunity measures.
FINDINGS ON EMPLOYMENT AND OPPORTUNITY IN RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GANG PROBLEMS
Table 11 provides the summary table for a number of different variables in relationship to the four measures of employment and perceived closure. As seen in Table 11, the first three measures are of employment experience and socialization: whether the father has holds a regular job (percent yes), whether the mother of the gang member holds a regular job (percent yes), and whether the gang member has ever held a part-time job (percent yes). The fourth measure is one of closure in the legitimate opportunity structure (i.e., the learning structure, not the performance structure) and specifically measures whether the gang member has felt shut out of an education or trade training (percent yes).
EMPLOYMENT AND OPPORTUNITY VARIABLES IN
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GANG PROBLEMS
WITH CHI-SQUARE RESULTS (p) OF SIGNIFICANCE
OR NON-SIGNIFICANCE (n.s.) AMONG N=1,015 GANG MEMBERS
Father Mother Gang Gang Has a Has a Member Member
Regular Regular Held a Felt
Job Job PT-Job Shutout
(% Yes) (% Yes) (% Yes) (% Yes)
I believe in such things as
education, having a nice home,
and supporting my family.
False 58.0% 53.8% 49.0% 73.8%
True 71.8% 73.9% 70.1% 47.8%
p=.02 p<.001 p=.001 p<.001
Percent who get angry enough to
want to hit or hurt someone one
or more times a day. 65.4% 72.0% 61.7% n.s.
p=.01 p<.001 p<.001 n.s.
Have you ever had to pay
protection money to a gang?
NO 72.3% 74.5% n.s. 47.8%
YES 50.0% 45.1% n.s. 71.2%
p<.001 p<.001 p<.001
Have you ever had to pay a
fine to a gang? NO 73.0% n.s. n.s. 47.2%
YES 59.8% n.s. n.s. 60.1%
Which best describes your
Has a regular job n.a. 71.6%
Has no regular job n.a. 61.0%
Which best describes your
mother? Has a regular job 76.1% n.a. 70.8% 46.4%
Has no regular job 56.7% n.a. 61.9% 55.1%
p<.001 p=.01 p=.01
Have you ever felt shut out of
an education or trade training?
NO n.s. n.a.
YES n.s. n.a.
Have you ever held a part-time
job? NO 63.9% 67.6% n.a. n.s. YES 74.0% 75.7% n.a. n.s.
How many times have you been
arrested for any crime in your
entire life? <=4 74.8% n.s. n.s. 42.6%
>=5 66.2% n.s. n.s. 56.4%
At what age were you first
arrested? <=13 66.4% n.s. 60.4% n.s.
>=14 74.1% n.s. 77.3% n.s.
Have you ever assaulted a
school teacher? NO 73.8% n.s. 71.9% 43.6%
YES 64.5% n.s. 63.0% 59.8%
During the last one year
period, how many physical
fights were you involved in?
<=4 73.7% n.s. 73.4% 44.8%
>=5 67.0% n.s. 63.5% 53.3%
p=.03 p=.002 p=.01
Does gangster rap influence you?
NO 72.9% 74.6% 69.7% n.s.
YES 61.1% 65.9% 60.8% n.s.
p=.002 p=.01 p=.02
Which best describes the type
of family you come from:
Mother,father and siblings 78.9% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Single mother and siblings 57.5% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Which sentence best describes
your thoughts on "work"?
Work is good and necessary. 74.1% 75.0% 72.5% 45.8%
There's no sense in working
for the man because he
doesn't appreciate it. 50.7% 61.3% 40.0% 55.0%
p<.001 p=.05 p<.001 p=.005
I am poor, mostly, because of
my skin color. FALSE 72.8% n.s. 70.6% 43.9%
TRUE 63.1% n.s. 62.9% 63.0%
p=.009 p=.03 p<.001
Sometimes used food stamps 66.4% 67.1% n.s. n.s.
Never used food stamps 78.2% 83.3% n.s. n.s.
Sometimes received public
aid or welfare checks 65.0% 65.4% n.s. n.s.
Never received public aid
or welfare checks 78.1% 82.8% n.s. n.s.
Sometimes had to do odd jobs
just to get by 67.1% 67.6% n.s. 54.7%
Never had to do odd jobs
just to get by 74.3% 78.0% n.s. 43.9%
p=.02 p<.001 p=.001
Sometimes received food
baskets from churches 64.2% 59.5% n.s. 55.8%
Never received food
baskets from churches 74.9% 80.0% n.s. 46.3%
p=.001 p<.001 p=.007
Sometimes lives in a public
housing project 66.6% 68.7% 62.4% n.s.
Never lived in a public
housing project 73.3% 75.2% 71.8% n.s.
p=.05 p=.04 p=.005
Sometimes had lights, gas,
and telephone "cut off"
because the bills could
not be paid n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s.
Never had lights, gas, or
telephone "cut off" n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s.
Sometimes there was very
little if any food in
the house 66.2% 62.7% n.s. 58.5%
Never had a problem with
lack of food in the
house 73.5% 78.3% n.s. 43.7%
p=.02 p<.001 p<.001
In my family I:
Was often given a regular
weekly allowance 73.5% 77.2% n.s. 43.9%
Was never given a regular
weekly allowance 66.3% 65.6% n.s. 56.9%
p=.02 p<.001 p<.001
If you were alone and while
burglarizing a house you were
able to steal $10,000 dollars,
would you be expected to give
some of this money to your
gang if they found out you
had that much money? NO 73.1% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 64.0% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Do you owns a motorcycle? NO 69.7% 71.3% n.s. n.s.
YES 78.2% 81.4% n.s. n.s.
Do you own a stereo system?
NO 62.1% n.s. n.s. 60.8%
YES 72.2% n.s. n.s. 47.3%
Do you own any savings bonds?
NO 68.1% n.s. n.s. 51.7%
YES 77.4% n.s. n.s. 43.6%
Have you ever been a prostitute?
NO 72.4% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 54.0% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Has father ever been arrested?
NO 77.8% n.s. 71.2% n.s.
YES 60.6% n.s. 64.3% n.s.
Has mother ever been arrested?
NO 74.8% 75.7% 71.0% 46.1%
YES 52.0% 58.2% 57.0% 58.5%
p<.001 p<.001 p=.001 p=.004
Has any brother ever been arrested?
NO 73.7% n.s. 71.4% n.s.
YES 67.0% n.s. 64.6% n.s.
Has any sister ever been arrested?
NO 73.0% n.s. n.s. 45.9%
YES 60.2% n.s. n.s. 59.3%
Has any cousin ever been arrested?
NO n.s. n.s. 72.8% n.s.
YES n.s. n.s. 65.2% n.s.
Has any aunt/uncle ever been arrested?
NO 74.8% 75.8% 72.8% n.s.
YES 66.8% 69.2% 64.2% n.s.
p=.01 p=.03 p=.006
No one in my family has ever
been arrested. FALSE 68.7% n.s. 66.7% n.s.
TRUE 82.8% n.s. 80.1% n.s.
Are you willing to die for your
gang friends? NO 75.2% 77.2% n.s. 42.5%
YES 67.1% 68.0% n.s. 53.7%
p=.03 p=.01 p=.009
Do you think your gang friends
would die for you? NO n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES n.s. n.s. n.s.
Do you spend most of your extra
money on drugs? NO 73.4% 74.7% 71.0% n.s.
YES 65.7% 68.4% 64.0% n.s.
p=.02 p=.04 p=.03
Have you ever lived in a "public
housing project"? NO 74.0% 74.3% 71.8% n.s.
YES 62.9% 67.2% 62.4% n.s.
p=.001 p=.03 p=.005
Have you ever committed a crime
on the property of or inside an
apartment of a public housing
project? NO 73.6% 75.6% 73.2% n.s.
YES 65.1% 67.3% 60.6% n.s.
p=.01 p=.008 p<.001
Have you ever been "violated"
(received a beating) by your own
gang for a "violation"? NO 73.2% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 64.6% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Among those who have engaged in
shakedowns (i.e., offering
protection) of small businesses,
have you ever targetted a
business owned by Arabs? NO 63.9% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 78.0% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Would you commit a crime
knowing that many neighbors
would come to court and
testify against you? NO 72.7% 75.0% n.s. 46.3%
YES 65.0% 66.8% n.s. 55.1%
p=.03 p=.01 p=.02
Have you ever used a motel or
hotel for criminal drug sales?
NO 74.3% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 66.1% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Would you carry a gun if your
car if you knew the car would
be confiscated? NO 73.1% 75.0% n.s. 45.0%
YES 66.3% 68.2% n.s. 54.8%
p=.04 p=.03 p=.006
Have you ever been physically
assaulted by someone in
your family? NO 75.8% n.s. n.s. n.s.
YES 61.4% n.s. n.s. n.s.
Understanding The Significant Differences Among Gang Members in terms of the Employment and Opportunity Closure Variables
Table 12 shows the full table for the frequency distribution of the three employment variables and the closure variable in relationship to whether the same gang members have ever had to pay protection money to a gang. It helps to understand the meaning of the percentages in Table 11 as well.
FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION FOR EMPLOYMENT AND CLOSURE
VARIABLES BY WHETHER THE GANG MEMBERS
HAVE EVER HAD TO PAY PROTECTION MONEY TO A GANG
Fathers Employment Status
Has a Has No
Have you ever had to pay
protection money to a gang?
NO 602 (72.3%) 230
YES 31 (50.0%) 31
Chi-square = 13.9, p < .001
Mothers Employment Status
Has a Has No
Ever pay protection $? NO 673 (74.5%) 230
YES 28 (45.1%) 34
Chi-square = 25.1, p < .001
Have You Ever Held a
Ever pay protection $? NO 262 595 (69.4%)
YES 23 33 (58.9%)
Chi-square = 2.69, p = .10 (n.s.)
Ever Felt Shut Out of An
Education or Trade Training?
Ever pay protection $? NO 490 450 (47.8%)
YES 19 47 (71.2%)
Chi-square = 13.4, p < .001
As seen in Table 12 the percentages in Table 11 represent the percentages for the variable of the row total, not the column totals. This is simply a convenient way to allow the summary findings to be presented in Table 11 without providing the full frequency distributions. We can now turn to an overall summary of the effects of the employment and closure variables.
The symbol "n.s." in Table 11 means "not significant", that is no significant difference emerged by the Chi-square test. The symbol "n.a." in Table 11 means "not applicable" (i.e., a variable in relationship to itself).
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Beliefs among these gang members in "such things as education, having a nice home, and supporting my family" are higher where the parents (both father and mother) have a regular job, and where the gang member has held a part-time job. This belief is lower among those who felt "shut out" of an education or trade training. Thus, there appears to be a significant effect from the employment status of parents on a variety of other factors that have affected the lives of these gang members.
It appears to be, minimally, that a consistent positive socialization effect appears when we know the parents are regularly employed. The effects of parental employment are also consistent across the various measures of family economic distress. These effects of parental employment are generally significant for more variables than is the measure of perceived closure (i.e., whether the gang members ever felt "shut out" of education or a trade training).
Race was not significant in relationship to (1) having ever held a part-time job, (2) whether father had or did not have a regular job, and (3) whether mother had or did not have a regular job. Race was significant in relationship to perceived closure in opportunity as measured by those who felt they has been "shut out" of an education or trade training. The distribution of this perceived closure was as follows: 42.3% among African-Americans, 49.5% among whites, 59.6% among Hispanics, 62.9% among Asians, 50 percent among Native American Indians, and 48.8% among "Other". Thus, this factor of perceived closure was significant (Chi-square = 17.7, p = .003) in relationship to race, and revealed that Asians perceive the greater closure in this respect.
We come now the implications of some of this research for the issue of dealing with the gang problem in America today. We begin this summary of implications with noting that in recent years there has been a flurry of new laws passed aimed at suppressing gang activity. If, however, gang activity has an important economic market condition that fuels the engine of the gang and allows it to endure and persist over time, then we are obligated to consider the effectiveness of some other prior attempts in American law to shape and mold human behavior. Recall that the noun "sunday" describing a food item originated when in a morally upright community a local ordinance existed that prohibited the sales of ice cream sodas on Sunday. The market demand for ice cream could not be that easily legislated away, and an innovator decided to sell ice cream without the soda but with a syrup --- and hence comes the origin of the very word "sunday" in reference to ice cream treats. We wonder seriously if the underground economy that gangs benefit from is not another kind of market demand structure the suppression of which would be as equally effective as outlawing ice cream treats on Sunday even in the most morally upright of communities. One of the implications, thus, is that locking up gang members may disrupt temporarily their own role in a larger economic functioning subcultural group (i.e., gangs), but we wonder if what does not happen is a rapid replacement effect as well: other gang members step forward to carry on their work. Still, it is clear that among the more formidable gangs that one plausible reason for their effectiveness in achieving large membership, representation across geographical areas, and persistence even in the context of enormous prosecution efforts is this: where the gang is vertically integrated, much income flows upward to sustain top leadership. This typically means the top gang leaders always have their own handpicked personal attorneys who may work full time for the gang: basically for the leaders, not the soldiers.
Informants have always been a major source of solving crime problems, and we suspect are a primary method by which to achieve more effective gang suppression. How much do law enforcement agencies in the United States routinely spend on informants? No one knows for sure. By one recent media source, however, expenditures for informants have increased in recent years (Katel, 1995: p. 48):
"A senior Justice Department official estimates that there are thousands of professional snitches. Since 1987, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Customs Service - the federal government's leading snitch employers - have doubled what they pay informants: from $2 billion to $31.7 million last year for DEA, and from $8.1 million to $16.5 million for Customs". (Newsweek, Jan. 30, 1995, p. 48).
We have reasons to suspect that such expenditures may be good decisions for gang suppression from an analysis of the economic aspects of gang life. This research showed that a sizable proportion of gang members would become informants under the right conditions (i.e., rewards, etc). Up to a third of the gang members would snitch under the right conditions. A number of factors help gauge which types of gang members are more likely to snitch. One prediction model for gang snitching was able to correctly identify two-thirds of the cases comparing predicted snitching with actual snitching predisposition.
Another interesting conclusion has to do with the relationships between gangs whose origins are geographically dispersed. A kind of fusion process appears to be happening in some outlying areas of the gang frontier (beyond L.A. and Chicago), where when two different types of gangs like the Crips and Folks do meet that they fuse together as allies. We have heard this explained, after we noticed several examples in several midwestern states, as follows: "They want to keep their colors or symbols, so the Crips ride with Folks who also wear blue colors; or the B-Boys or Bloods will align themselves with Brothers (i.e., African-American People gangs)". A number of cases appeared where the gang member was equally self-identifying as being associated with both "Crips" and "Folks" general classifications. Thus, these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories is the conclusion we have reached. The universal process of the law of natural group opposition formation still applies, such a gang member identifying with both the Crips and the Folks will show the natural animosity towards Bloods and Peoples. But a fusion of gang identity does exist and we alert others to this finding of some importance. This cannot be interpreted to the effect that now a national alliance exists between the Folks and the Crips, we simply note that where the two groups find themselves together that we have found in some instances a fusion occurs, as if in these outlying areas when the two gang identities do operate in the same area, then a hybrid comes out of the two gang identities previously thought to exist only as separate categories of general overall types of gang alliances.
This fusion can be illustrated by one respondent who self-reported in his own handwriting his gang name as the "Wyoming Gangster Disciple Crips", where the affiliation is "crips". Similarly, a member of the Black P. Stones in this same area identified with both "People" and "Bloods". This particular social context was a juvenile correctional facility in Michigan, and what this might mean is simply that similar to the Brobrowski (1988) hypothesis that the overall "folks/peoples" nations or alliances formed behind bars to as a pragmatic response to ongoing conflicts, that what we might now be seeing is the similar alliance arising within juvenile correctional institutions that extends into the streets as well. Thus, a white gang like the Simon City Royals became "folks" because it could gain the protection of the single largest gang (the Gangster Disciples) in exchange for its own drug connections, and it became a quid pro quo arrangement for various gangs to therefore enter into this type of overall umbrella gang alliance system known as the difference between "People" and "Folks". This could simply be a case where in outlying areas, if emulation is going on as a cause of gang proliferation, then the actors may simply be choosing a combination of symbols and identifiers they find consistent and they find threatening to the status quo. We urge further research on this issue. We do know that at some of the national gang "summit meetings" held in recent years, such as that in Chicago in October of 1993, that many Crips and Gangster Disciples were present together in a friendly and cooperative fashion. The Crips are the largest gang in their own area of origin (Los Angeles), and the Gangster Disciples are the largest single gang in Chicago. We would highly recommend future gang research investigate the alliance structure nationally.
This fusion process by which gangs can merge also includes the example from Chicago of Black P. Stones Nation (B.P.S.N.) gang members with a dual identity as B.P.S.N. and El Rukns. Recall that enormous federal prosecution efforts were directed in recent years against the El Rukns. We found several respondents who self-identified as therefore being both BPSN and El Rukns. We further found a logical explanation for this fusion process. Jeff Fort was the leader of the El Rukns. Jeff Fort's son, "Wakeeta" created a split in the B.P.S.N. in 1993 by heading up one major faction of the B.P.S.N. that is a refuge for those El Rukns who were not neutralized by federal prosecution. The other faction of the B.P.S.N. is headed by "Ruben", and such Black P. Stones are also called "Rubenites" in Chicago. This split caused the Rubinite faction of the B.P.S.N. to issue its new and revised gang logo to differentiate itself from the El Rukn fusion faction. Thus, one gang thought to have "died" from federal prosecution, actually merged or fused with another, creating a new separate faction and causing further differentiation in the new gang identity.
Our analysis has included N = 1,015 gang members and a number of comparisons have been made within this population. The research did have access to non-gang members, but the non-gang members are not examined in this report. Obviously, a number of factors can be compared between gang members and non-gang members, but this is a issue of interest to individual co-principal investigators; whom we can expect will release their findings along these lines in the near future.
We attribute the success of our ability to rapidly collect a very large national sample of gang members to the type of research model we used. We used the service model, where the agencies and program sites worked collaboratively with us; we often collected "special data" for such sites based on their own local interests; and we made sure these sites were the first to receive analysis results and customized reports describing their local gang and non-gang populations. In the process of reaching our goal of at least 1,000 gang members for purposes of analysis we did identify new and additional sites that were willing to collaborate with us --- these will be used for the upcoming national gang research Task Force dealing with gang prevention and intervention.
The goal for Project GANGPINT (Gang Prevention/Intervention) is to have a national sample of about 5,000 gang members for purposes of conducting what may be the first national needs assessment based on the data from actual gang members and other non-gang members and persons at risk of gang membership.
This is a preliminary report on the analysis of the data from Project GANGECON a national Gang Research Task Force group. It is preliminary because a time deadline existed for reporting results at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Thus, it must be pointed out that as a preliminary report the individual members of this Task Force can be expected to add further analysis on this same data in the future. Further, additional data is available for the same survey instrument involving non-gang members, and this report focused exclusively on self-reported gang members (N = 1,015). Further, because of the necessity of finalizing the preliminary report, new data sources (additional sites) could not be added to the present analysis; however, we expect these additional social contexts will simply add much to the already large gang member sample, and provide further evidence along the same lines of the present report.
Much additional analysis is now underway on the present data environment created from Project GANGECON by the individual researchers who were co-principal investigators for this project.
Recommendations for Improving Future Research
Here we offer a number of practical methodological suggestions to other researchers for improving upon the validity and reliability of this type of gang research for the future. Obviously, in the social sciences there is no one that can say they have the perfect research design. On the other hand, as we have endeavored to do, it is still possible to take extraordinary precautions and improve upon existing techniques and approaches. The following recommendations have to do with using actual gang members as the unit of analysis for survey research.
(1) When trying to solve the "puzzle" of why people join gangs, we would recommend some future changes and improvements. It is not, first of all possible, we believe to characterize accurately any small list of reasons why anyone joins anything. We argue no such genuine typology exists. And a typology must be an exhaustive list of reasons that are also mutually exclusive. Thus, future research may benefit from trying not to ask a single reason among a list of several options why a person may or may not have joined a gang, but to rather rank these options on a scaled dimension. And further, to make sure these are separately ranked variables among the full list of such possibilities. In that there exist so many possible factors of motivation we may need to have a factor analysis of such data before we can have an idea of the statistical value of such measurements.
Much previous research on this issue has assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that something as complex as a etiological accounting for why someone first joined a gang can be reduced to a one simple factor or variable. This may not necessarily be true, as we seemed to sense from our analysis that this is not always the case. We would recommend, therefore, in future research on this factor that the entire series of possible reasons be treated as separate variables in a semantic differential scale approach, where the semantic differential measures are captured for each and all of the potential reasons or motivations for first joining a gang. Then, we would be able to simply rank order these factors, scale them, or more directly analyze what is after all an etiological or causality issue.
(2) We have found that the family issue is a sensitive issue among criminal offenders and members of criminal gangs. This is, we believe it is possible, also a matter of social evaluation and labelling to some extent. The person against the wall has only his/her family to rely on: no matter how destitute or lacking in privileged social status. Questions about "fathers" to more than some confined persons is also an issue of more than some typically negative sentiments among males. But having touched on what appears to be a raw nerve, where emotions flair, the significance of this issue cannot be avoided. We would recommend including questions about the family condition that may touch on issues of deprivation to be included at the end of the survey, in terms of item order.
Further, the issue of being able to easily measure some meaningful indicator of "family structure" is as difficult as measuring motivations for originally joining a gang: there are simply a lot of variations. We would recommend a component based check-off list system for measuring family structure among juvenile offenders. This should simply list all the known possibilities of relatives and close family members (mother, father, grandmother, adoption, etc), and ask the respondent to indicate which of these he/she had the benefit of positive ongoing interaction with over the years.
(3) An issue of "norms" also arises, we found, when asking the obvious: would you be a snitch. A snitch in the criminal underworld is an issue of criminal norms: there is nothing lower in the status hierarchy of criminal groups than a snitch. If researchers do measure aspects of this issue of intense emotion among criminal offenders we would recommend also including it as a measurement placed towards the end of the survey, in the item order of questions. This too is an issue of emotional panic: like the family desperation or economic suffering questions, these might be perceived as measures of stigma and will raise hostile reactions in some situations.
(4) We would recommend an additional improvement as well: including a cover letter on university stationary stapled to the survey instrument on the very front, explaining to the respondent our overall purpose for the research. This way, we can tell the respondents to rip off the front page if they want a way to get in touch with us, or in the case of inmates, to write or call us. This could result in developing opportunities for a number of new additional case studies for the same populations. This way, as well, in a group setting the researchers can more efficiently explain their intentions and not have to repeat explanations verbally.
REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bobrowski, Lawrence J.
1988 "Collecting, Organizing and Reporting Street Gang Crime", Chicago Police Department, prepared for the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology. CPD: Special Functions Group.
Hagedorn, John M., with Perry Macon
1988 People and Folks. Chicago: Lake View Press
1995 "Justice: The Trouble With Informants", Newsweek, January 30, 1995, p. 48.
Knox, George W.
1995 An Introduction to Gangs. Bristol, IN: Wyndham Hall Press.
1995 National Gang Resource Handbook: An Encyclopedic Reference. Bristol, Indiana: Wyndham Hall Press. Padilla, Felix
1992 The Gang as an American Enterprise. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
Copy of the Survey Instrument
page 1 of survey
page 2 of survey
page 3 of survey
page 4 of survey
page 5 of survey
page 6 of survey
page 7 of survey
page 8 of survey
Listing of Gang Names Coded for Alpha-Numeric Processing:
The Gangs represented in this national sample.
COUNT COUNT PCT PCT ITEM20C$
1 1 .2 .2 12StPlayers
1 2 .2 .3 18St.Gang
1 3 .2 .5 18St.PW
1 4 .2 .6 18thStrSUR13
6 10 .9 1.6 18thStreet
1 11 .2 1.7 26ofCicero
1 12 .2 1.9 36St
1 13 .2 2.0 36StMapleLS1
1 14 .2 2.2 42GCrips
1 15 .2 2.4 43St.Gang
18 33 2.8 5.2 4CornHustler
1 34 .2 5.4 4DuceG.Crip
1 35 .2 5.5 66CC
1 36 .2 5.7 66Hustlers
1 37 .2 5.8 7 Duce
1 38 .2 6.0 83HooverCrim
3 41 .5 6.5 8TrayGangsta
1 42 .2 6.6 92E.S.Bishop
1 43 .2 6.8 ABs
1 44 .2 6.9 AltaBloCrip
1 45 .2 7.1 Ambrose OG
1 46 .2 7.2 AryanBrother
1 47 .2 7.4 AryanNation
1 48 .2 7.6 AsianBoyz
1 49 .2 7.7 AsianToonzG
1 50 .2 7.9 AveOxfordBoy
1 51 .2 8.0 Avenues43
1 52 .2 8.2 B.Gangsta
1 53 .2 8.3 B.O.S.
26 79 4.1 12.4 B.P.S.N.
12 91 1.9 14.3 BD
1 92 .2 14.5 BDN,SOS
3 95 .5 15.0 BDs
2 97 .3 15.3 BG
1 98 .2 15.4 BG NewBreed
5 103 .8 16.2 BGD
1 104 .2 16.4 BGDN
2 106 .3 16.7 BGDs
1 107 .2 16.9 BGs
1 108 .2 17.0 BHP
2 110 .3 17.3 BPSN
1 111 .2 17.5 BPSN-ElRukns
1 112 .2 17.6 BSP
1 113 .2 17.8 BSV Bloods
1 114 .2 18.0 Bart.Wolves
1 115 .2 18.1 Bebe
1 116 .2 18.3 BebopWts92nd
1 117 .2 18.4 Beetdown
1 118 .2 18.6 Bishops
3 121 .5 19.1 Bl.Gangster
1 122 .2 19.2 Bl.Knights
1 123 .2 19.4 Bl.Panther
1 124 .2 19.5 Bl.Souls
1 125 .2 19.7 BlackSoul
1 126 .2 19.8 BlackSouls
1 127 .2 20.0 BloodThirst
10 137 1.6 21.6 Bloods
1 138 .2 21.7 BlythStreet
1 139 .2 21.9 BornLosersMC
1 140 .2 22.0 Broadway-GC1
1 141 .2 22.2 Bros.(MOES)
1 142 .2 22.4 BryantStSfv
1 143 .2 22.5 BurlingtonLo
1 144 .2 22.7 C.I.A.
12 156 1.9 24.6 C.ViceLord
1 157 .2 24.7 C.ViceLords
1 158 .2 24.9 C.XTorrance
1 159 .2 25.0 CViceLord
1 160 .2 25.2 CampbellBoys
1 161 .2 25.4 Cicero26
1 162 .2 25.5 ClaraSt.SUR1
2 164 .3 25.8 Cobra
1 165 .2 26.0 Cobras
1 166 .2 26.1 ComptonCrips
1 167 .2 26.3 Con.ViceLord
1 168 .2 26.5 CrazyBoys
1 169 .2 26.6 CrazyRiders1
1 170 .2 26.8 Crew
2 172 .3 27.1 Crip
23 195 3.6 30.7 Crips
1 196 .2 30.9 Crips+Folks
1 197 .2 31.0 Crips,Folks
1 198 .2 31.2 Cro[s
1 199 .2 31.3 Crusifers
1 200 .2 31.5 Cypress
1 201 .2 31.7 DRS
1 202 .2 31.8 DUBBs
1 203 .2 32.0 Delray
1 204 .2 32.1 DiamondSt.
1 205 .2 32.3 Disciple
9 214 1.4 33.7 Disciples
1 215 .2 33.9 DogPound
1 216 .2 34.0 Dragnets
1 217 .2 34.2 Dragons
1 218 .2 34.3 DriftersX3
1 219 .2 34.5 E.Co.118StCr
2 221 .3 34.8 E.CoastCrip
1 222 .2 35.0 E.CoastCrips
1 223 .2 35.1 E.M.Flores
1 224 .2 35.3 E.S.P.
1 225 .2 35.4 E.S.PainBloo
1 226 .2 35.6 E.Si.Playboy
1 227 .2 35.7 E.SideLongo
1 228 .2 35.9 E.SidePlaybo
1 229 .2 36.1 EFourDuceGan
1 230 .2 36.2 EastCoast
1 231 .2 36.4 EastsideCrip
1 232 .2 36.5 EightSt.s13
1 233 .2 36.7 ElMonteFlore
1 234 .2 36.9 ExoticBoyz
1 235 .2 37.0 EyD
1 236 .2 37.2 FOESIXNHC
1 237 .2 37.3 FRP
1 238 .2 37.5 FamiliaStone
1 239 .2 37.6 FamiliaX3
1 240 .2 37.8 FenkenAve.
3 243 .5 38.3 Florencia13
17 260 2.7 40.9 Folks
1 261 .2 41.1 FolkzNation
1 262 .2 41.3 G.B.D.
102 364 16.1 57.3 GD
1 365 .2 57.5 GDD
1 366 .2 57.6 Gangsters
1 367 .2 57.8 Gaylords
1 368 .2 58.0 GeerGangCrip
1 369 .2 58.1 GrapeSt.Watt
2 371 .3 58.4 GrapeStWatts
1 372 .2 58.6 Gs
1 373 .2 58.7 HBCG
1 374 .2 58.9 HEMETX3
1 375 .2 59.1 HPG,LWS
1 376 .2 59.2 Har.Crips30s
1 377 .2 59.4 Harpys
1 378 .2 59.5 HatGangWatts
1 379 .2 59.7 HeadBangerz
1 380 .2 59.8 HeadHuntersX
1 381 .2 60.0 HellsideGang
1 382 .2 60.2 HighlandPar
1 383 .2 60.3 Hoova
1 384 .2 60.5 Hoover92St.
1 385 .2 60.6 HooverCrimin
1 386 .2 60.8 HoyoMaravill
1 387 .2 60.9 Hunt.Pk.Loco
1 388 .2 61.1 I.ViceLord
1 389 .2 61.3 I22ndCicero
2 391 .3 61.6 IG
3 394 .5 62.0 Imp.Gangster
1 395 .2 62.2 Ins.Deuces
1 396 .2 62.4 Ins.Unknowns
1 397 .2 62.5 Insa.Unknown
1 398 .2 62.7 Insane21st
1 399 .2 62.8 InsaneCrips
2 401 .3 63.1 KKK
1 402 .2 63.3 KWS-Bloods
1 403 .2 63.5 KellyP.Crips
1 404 .2 63.6 KenmoreBOys
1 405 .2 63.8 KoreanPlaBoy
1 406 .2 63.9 L.B.AsianBoy
1 407 .2 64.1 LD
2 409 .3 64.4 LaRaza
1 410 .2 64.6 LadyEights
1 411 .2 64.7 LadyMafia
1 412 .2 64.9 Lat.Count
4 416 .6 65.5 Lat.Counts
1 417 .2 65.7 Lat.Dragons
1 418 .2 65.8 Lat.Eagles
4 422 .6 66.5 Lat.King
14 436 2.2 68.7 Lat.Kings
1 437 .2 68.8 Lat.Lover
1 438 .2 69.0 Lat.Lovers
1 439 .2 69.1 LatinD.
1 440 .2 69.3 LatinDisc
1 441 .2 69.4 Lennox-13
1 442 .2 69.6 Lennox13
1 443 .2 69.8 LewistonCall
1 444 .2 69.9 Lil Folks
1 445 .2 70.1 LilValley
1 446 .2 70.2 LocoBoys
1 447 .2 70.4 Locos
1 448 .2 70.6 Lords
1 449 .2 70.7 LosCrazys
1 450 .2 70.9 LosViesCrips
1 451 .2 71.0 LsLpMOBPiruG
1 452 .2 71.2 Lynw.Mob13
1 453 .2 71.3 M.G.G.
1 454 .2 71.5 M.O.B.
1 455 .2 71.7 MC
3 458 .5 72.1 MLDs
1 459 .2 72.3 MSCK
1 460 .2 72.4 MadBl.Soul
1 461 .2 72.6 Maf.In.V.L.
1 462 .2 72.8 Maf.In.V.L.s
2 464 .3 73.1 Maf.Ins.V.L.
1 465 .2 73.2 MainStCrip
1 466 .2 73.4 ManiacLatDs
1 467 .2 73.5 ManiacLatLov
1 468 .2 73.7 Mansf.GCrip
2 470 .3 74.0 MaraSalvatru
3 473 .5 74.5 Maravilla
1 474 .2 74.6 MarvinGangst
1 475 .2 74.8 MexicanKlan
2 477 .3 75.1 MickeyCobra
1 478 .2 75.3 MickeyCobras
1 479 .2 75.4 N.F.L.
1 480 .2 75.6 N.S.NaziPart
1 481 .2 75.7 NAS,PBG
1 482 .2 75.9 NeoZeed
2 484 .3 76.2 NewBreed
1 485 .2 76.4 NewBreedBG
1 486 .2 76.5 NiggasIntoMo
1 487 .2 76.7 NorvilleBoyz
1 488 .2 76.9 OutColdBoys
1 489 .2 77.0 OutColdCutie
1 490 .2 77.2 Outlaws,MC
1 491 .2 77.3 P.R. Stones
1 492 .2 77.5 PacoimaLatin
1 493 .2 77.6 PalmerCRIP
1 494 .2 77.8 PartyPeople
1 495 .2 78.0 Pasa.Maf.Fam
1 496 .2 78.1 PasadenaDL
1 497 .2 78.3 PasadenaPimp
1 498 .2 78.4 PasadenaSur1
1 499 .2 78.6 PeeJayWatts
1 500 .2 78.7 PepozNation
1 501 .2 78.9 Pinoy Real
1 502 .2 79.1 Piru
1 503 .2 79.2 PiruE.L.A.13
1 504 .2 79.4 PlayboyG.C.
3 507 .5 79.8 Playboys
1 508 .2 80.0 Playboyz
1 509 .2 80.2 PrimeraLocos
1 510 .2 80.3 RAC
1 511 .2 80.5 RTC
1 512 .2 80.6 RascalsMarav
1 513 .2 80.8 Roll.60Crip
4 517 .6 81.4 Roll20Crips
2 519 .3 81.7 Rolling60s
3 522 .5 82.2 S.C.Royals
1 523 .2 82.4 SCB
1 524 .2 82.5 SCE Locos
2 526 .3 82.8 SUR13
1 527 .2 83.0 SUR13 Dukes
1 528 .2 83.1 SYC Crips
1 529 .2 83.3 Sanfer.Young
1 530 .2 83.5 SatanDiscip
3 533 .5 83.9 SatanDiscipl
1 534 .2 84.1 SatanicCult
1 535 .2 84.3 Satanism
1 536 .2 84.4 SatansDisci
1 537 .2 84.6 Sharkies
1 538 .2 84.7 Shorty40s
1 539 .2 84.9 Sim.CityRoya
1 540 .2 85.0 Skinhead
2 542 .3 85.4 Skinheads
1 543 .2 85.5 Skinheads88
1 544 .2 85.7 SolidT.V.L.
1 545 .2 85.8 SotoStreet
2 547 .3 86.1 Souls
1 548 .2 86.3 Span. GDs
1 549 .2 86.5 StreetTopPir
1 550 .2 86.6 Surenos
1 551 .2 86.8 SurenosE.Los
1 552 .2 86.9 SurenosX3
1 553 .2 87.1 SurenosXIII
1 554 .2 87.2 T.V.L.
1 555 .2 87.4 TAP Boyz
1 556 .2 87.6 TJLocos
1 557 .2 87.7 TLG
1 558 .2 87.9 TVRJKS43
1 559 .2 88.0 TempleC.Sure
1 560 .2 88.2 Thuglifehu
1 561 .2 88.3 TinyLocos
1 562 .2 88.5 Toonerville
1 563 .2 88.7 TortillaFlat
1 564 .2 88.8 TragniewP.Cr
1 565 .2 89.0 Trav.V.L.
1 566 .2 89.1 Trav.ViceLor
1 567 .2 89.3 TreeTopBlood
3 570 .5 89.8 U.ViceLord
1 571 .2 89.9 U.ViceLords
1 572 .2 90.1 UVLN
1 573 .2 90.2 V.NuevoEstra
1 574 .2 90.4 Valley
1 575 .2 90.6 VannuyzAsian
26 601 4.1 94.6 ViceLord
17 618 2.7 97.3 ViceLords
1 619 .2 97.5 Vietnamese
1 620 .2 97.6 VillageBoys
1 621 .2 97.8 VillageTownP
1 622 .2 98.0 Vineland
1 623 .2 98.1 W.CoastMafia
1 624 .2 98.3 W.sideCrips
1 625 .2 98.4 WS25stBPSN
1 626 .2 98.6 Wanderers.X3
1 627 .2 98.7 WestS.Troub
1 628 .2 98.9 WetTown
1 629 .2 99.1 WhiteFence
1 630 .2 99.2 Wilmas WS
1 631 .2 99.4 Wyo.GDcrips
1 632 .2 99.5 XVIIISt.
1 633 .2 99.7 YoungG.D.s
2 635 .3 100.0 YoungGuns
Transcription of the Internal Records of
One Chicago Chapter of the Ethnic Rulers
For A Six Month Period in 1990
Member list: Flaco, Kasper, Hitman, Shy, Short, Mousie, Joker, House, Gunner, Lotto, Angel, Sinbad, Killer, Al, Turtle, Wedo, Ponyboy, Sinister, Delfino, Whitey, Babyslick, Lover, Slick, Flaco.
January 13, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I Kato becomes An Ethnic Ruler: he is on preliminary probation until March 13, 1990
II New counsel:
Since 2 members of the present counsel have been incarserated and I cannot attend the meting regularly, we picked 3 new counsel members. The new counsel is as follows: Chairman - Stony; members - Hitman, Wedo, Shy, and Shorty. Slick and Sir Lover have the chance to gain their rank back when they get out.
III (Marked in large letters OVERRULED FEB. 11, 1990)
It was decided today by a majority vote that Baby Slick will have to pay $50.00 for the .32 pistol because he told the police where to find the gun during the interrogation. Baby Slick will have a chance to defend himself as soon as possible.
Today Flaco got a 15 second violation because he let his lady thrown down the crown to his face.
Stony got a 30 second violation for disrespecting Flaco by telling him "I wish you weren't a King so I could smash you".
signed by secretary: Angel
January 20, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I Today Kasper took his violation out of the Chapter: the violation was 3 minutes long and was given by 4 people.
II NEW RANK: Because Kasper left his rank of enforcer we chose to move Stony up to rank of enforcer. Wedo is the new chairman of the counsel and our newest counsel member is Joker.
III Spending Chapter money:
Today it was decided that we will send $10.00 a piece to Slick, Sir Lover and Baby Slick. $31.00 was given to Kato so he can give it to Carol.
IV Violations: Wedo got a violation today because he left his post while standing security for a southside meeting.
February 11, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. New Recruits:
Today Kasper took his violation back into the Ethnic Rulers. The violation was 30 seconds long and there was no probation given.
II Violations: Joker got a 45 second violation for coming to the meeting intoxicated. Shy and sinister both got a 45 second violation for not going back to Loco when he got shot.
III On Tuesday February the 6th Loco got shot while taking a march to 60th. He is healthy and will be in perfect health.
IV New Laws: It was decided today that fromnow on at the end of every month, whoever is not paid up on thier dues has a 30 sescond violation and if the person is overdue for 2 months then it's a 60 second violation.
V. We decided today that we will start up the Ethnic Rulers of 53rd. As far as we know Claudia will be holding it down for them. We will meet with her next week.
VI We will soon be holding a party for the 1st anniversery of the Ethnic Rulers. All the boy's have until April 21st to pay the $20.00 fee for the party. Angel was put in charge of organizing the party.
VII $70.00 was collected in dues today which brings our current balance fo $112.00
1-13-90 $26.00 was collected today and $25.00 was paid to Ghost of the LLKs. $5.00 is still owed to Ghost and we have $1.00 left.
1-20-90 $30.00 was collected today and was decided that we will send $10.00 a piece to Slick, Sir Lover and Baby Slick. $31.00 was given to Kato so he can give it to Carol.
1-27-90 $19.00 was collected today.
February 17, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I We talk about the party again.
II Collect $19.00 today. Balanced $131.00. Signed Prowler.
Febury 24, 1990 6:30 Flaco's House
I Today we over ruled to pay the dues because all the boys were not here. We're going to do it next week.
II Today Stony got a violation for missing the meeting for getting a tattoo. Joker and Hitman gave him the violation.
III Today we collected $21.00 dollors for dues money. It balances out to $152.00 dollars.
IIII Today all the boys that were at the meeting talk about the party but it was canceled to next week.
2-3-90 $19.00 was collected in dues today. That makes the balance currently $42.00
2-11-90 $70.00 was collected in dues today which brings our current balance to $112.00
2-17-90 $19.00 was collected in dues today. That makes the balance $130.00 in cash.
2-24-90 $21.00 was collected in dues today. That makes the balance $152.00 in cash.
March 3, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Sinbad became Ethnic Rulers of 53st. He is on preliminary probation until May 5, 1990.
II. We cancel the meeting early because nobody came.
III Nobody had dues money, today so our balance is still $152.00
March 8, 1990
Member check list:
Sir Lover EX.
Baby Slick EX.
March 10, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. New Members: Today Insane Gus became the newest Ethnic Ruler. He is on preliminary probation until May 12, 1990. Killer also took his violation into the chapter and he also will be on probation until May 12, 1990.
II. New Rank: Kasper was Appointed by the Inca and the Cacique to be the chapter investigator. His term is indefinite.
III. Violations - today Gunner got a 30 second violation for missing an emergency meeting that was called last Thursday.
IV Chapter rules + regulations: It was decided today that members will no longer be able to smoke during indoor meetings due to the mess and the congestion. It was also decided that anyone coming more than 5 minutes late to a scheduled meeting will not be admitted in. The person will also be getting a violation for missing a meeting.
V $63 was collected in due's today. That brings our current balance to $215
March 17, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I We collect $26.00. $241.00 together.
II Vote for new rule's. We talk about the heads. Talk about the due's. Kato get out probation. Kato lost the pistol owe's $50.00
March 24, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I Today Delfino and Alex and WHitey became an Ethnic Ruler. All are on two months probation until May 26th, 1990.
II Kato was put on 30 day probation for the fact that his girlfiend knew about our emergency meeting two weeks ago
III 27 dollars was collected in dues today which brings our balance to $268
IV $6.00 was spend on spray paint which is needed to fix the hood.
V It was decided unanimously today that Smokey be kicked out. He will be given a violtion on sight.
March 31st, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I Alex has decided today that from here on he shall be known as Al - of the Ethnic Rulers.
II Violations - Kasper, Stoney + Joker all have received violations for not keeping up with their dues during the month of March.
III $75.00 was spend on artillery this week which brings the balance down to $193.00
IV $95.00 was collected this week which brings our balance back up to $288.00
Whitey join pd.
Alex join pd.
3-3-90 Nobody had dues money today so our balance is still $152.00
3-10-90 $63.00 was collected in dues today that brings our balance to $215.00
3-17-90 $26.00 was collected which brings our balance to $241.00
3-24-90 $27.00 was collected in dues which brings our balance to $268.00 but $6.00 was spent on spray paint to fix the hood.
3-31-89 $95.00 was collected which brings our balance to $288.00 but $75.00 was spend on the "357".
April 7, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I No dues was collected today, but we collect dues from the past which is $35.00 an it bring the balance to $317.00
II Loco is now off probation
April 14, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Violations, Gunner got a 30 second violation for not keeping up with his dues.
II. 30 dollars was taken out for Big Slick, who is incarserated.
III 47 dollars was collected in dues today which brings our balance to $334.00
April 21, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's house
I Today $59.00 was collected which brings our balance up to $393.00
delinquent dues list:
Turtle gave 10 owes 2.75
Angel 17.75 + 250.00
Missing from dues: $746.50
April 28th, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Wicked becomes a member with Turtle both are on preliminary probation until june 30, 1990
II Violations: Stony got 60, for no dues, 60 for no party money and 60 for fighting with Joker. Stony also lost his rank of enforcer because he fought with Joker. Shorty got 60 seconds for no party money. Joker got 60 second for no party money and 35 for fighting with Stony.
III $44.00 was collected for dues which brings our balance to $437.00. $164.00 was spent on shirts and 82.00 was spent on paint for the emblem which brings our balance to 191.00
May 5, 1990 12:00 P.M. Flaco's House
I Today was a quick meeting because we were late for the nation picnic. Nothing official was talked about. All matters were continued to next meeting.
May 12, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Violations: Wicked, Lil Al, Stony, Joker all got violations for oweing more than $9.00 to the dues - 30 seconds.
Stony got a violation for running from the Ambrose and leaving Angel hanging - 1 1/2 minutes.
II Joker lost his rank as a counsel member because he has been missing counsel meetings. Mousie is a new permanent member of the counsel and Loco + Killer are temporary members until Wedo + Shorty get out of jail.
III Insane Gus got another 1 month probation because he still hasn't proved himself.
IV $47.40 was collected today which brings our balance to $237.40
May 19, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's house.
I. Violations: Joker got 30 seconds for missing the last meeting and 30 seconds for going over the $9.00 limit.
Delfino got 30 seconds for not coming to the last meeting.
Stony got 15 seconds for smoking in the last meeting.
Sinbad took 15 seconds for smoking in the last meeting.
II. $64.00 was collected this week. $80.00 was spent on donations for brothers in need. $30.00 was sent to Gunner. That leaves $182.00 total for the dues.
May 26, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
Angel got a violation for taking the pistol out of the hood - 30 seconds.
Mousie got a violation for missing the last meeting - 30 seconds.
II Delfino and Alex are off preliminary probation and are now official members.
III $164.00 was collected in dues today. $70.00 was used to buy a .22 caliber 6-shot and $150.00 was used to buy a 32 automatic. That makes the total $126.00 dollars in the dues.
June 2, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Today we collected $26.00 in dues. That makes the total $152.00 in the dues.
II Short meeting
June 9, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House
I. Today we collect $83.00 for dues which is the total of $235.00 in balance.
II Today the boy's decided that Kasper and Shorty has to pay $20.00 each for the 357 pistol that we lost.
III And also we had a short meeting this week.
June 6, 1990 We had a get together meeting:
Lil Angel check
June 11, 1990 we 7:00 pm had a get together meeting just for:
1) Hitman check
2) House check
3) Shy check
5) Killer check
7) Lotto check
8) Angel check
10) Flaco check
11) Kasper check
June 11, 1990 7:00 Flaco's House
Today we had a meeting to talk about wheather or not Cheryl was tricking to Nicole's mother. The next page was given to the boys by Nicole. Cheryl was found innocent and it came out that Nicole was with folks saying she is a Queen.
6/1 9:00 pm she left here in a Escort, 2 guys to pick up Joanne. I called Joanne and told her she can't go she said she would bring her back when they come to get her. She wasn't in the car. They dropped her off at 79 & Pulaskie to beep Ramsey; Joanne called me back could find her anywhere.
6/2 I called Joanne- she said her ____ didn't come home--also ______ was kicked out. Cheryl called, I ask where Nikki was she said in the hood by Flaco's partying, gang banging at ______ so we went by Flaco's they said they haven't seen her and _____ left 15 minutes ago.
6/3 Called police at 12:30 to report her missing.
6/4 Mike found her with ____ by accident. He brought her home.
June 16, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's hs.
I. Violations: Sinbad got 30 seconds for interupting todays meeting and 60 seconds for interupting last monday's meeting.
Hitman got 30 seconds for interupting todays meeting and 30 seconds for calling Sinbad an "Arab".
Stony got 30 seconds for interupting todays meeting.
Kasper got 30 seconds for lieing on the crown.
Turtle got 15 seconds for interupting last Mondays meeting.
Angel got 20 seconds for hitting Hitman in the arm.
Mousie got 15 seconds for interupting todays meeting.
II Visitors: Oso and Neto sat in on our meeting representing Albany and 21st.
III Dues: $29.00 was collected today in dues. $21.00 was sent to Whitey who is presently incarserated. Total balance $231.18
IV Angel's trial has been continued for 2 weeks.
June 23rd, 1990 6:30 P.M. Flaco's House.
I. New Rank: Shy is the new secretary as of next week.
The vote for new cacique has been continued for 1 month. The running contenders are Hitman, Kasper, Flaco, Wedo.
II $56.75 was collected today that brings our balance to $288.03
June 30, 1990
I. Mama's, Ann, Lisa became Queen's from our Chapter.
II. Wicked, Stoney, Joker got 1 minute for not having all the dues at the end of the month. Turtle got a 30 second for not having his dues in. Bob gets his next week.
III Mousie, Stony, Wicked, Turtle, and Sinbad got 30 seconds violation for getting out of hand during the meeting.
IV $250.00 dollars were taken from the dues to purchase a 9mm.
V $92.25 dollars ere collected for dues.
Application of Project GANGECON Findings to Youth Gang Prevention.
TRUTH IN GANG ECONOMICS DISCLOSURE FORM
Our Advice to American Teens Today
What are the costs and benefits of joining a gang?
Here are the factual results from detailed interviews (about 200 questions each) with over one-thousand (N = 1,015) gang members throughout the United States including Los Angeles (Crips, Bloods, Surenos, Nortenos, etc), Chicago (every gang or "organization"), Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio.
Q: "What kind of opportunity will I get in a gang?"
A: Greater access to trouble.
Q: "Will I make a lot of money in the gang?"
A: "Absolutely not. It is a myth. Most of the money from illegal income sources like drug sales goes directly to the top leaders who are for the most part older adults".
Q: "By joining a gang and participating in some of its profit-making activities, will I see a lot of money?"
A: "Yes you may, it will go through your hands, up the ladder of the gang organization, and stay there. What you get is peanuts. You are exploited as a WORKER worse than if you worked in a sweat-shop. You will see money, but you will not keep it: the leaders are the ones who keep most of the money a gang makes in its financial enterprises."
Q: "Don't I get protection when I join a gang?".
A: "That's another myth...most gang members get victimized by both other rival gangs and by their own gang (i.e., violations)...what you really buy when you join a gang is a statistically significant increased probability of being a victim of a violent assault from either other gangs or your own gang".
Q: "Won't a gang help me to make it through school and help me make a future...after all they all say they are doing some good for their own communities?"
A: "Wait...think it over...a cult says the same thing, it is not a cult; a gang will also say it is not a gang, it is an organization trying to protect the hood or improve it...but that is sort of like having an arsonist wanting to become the next spokesperson for the Smokey-the-bear forest fire prevention commercial. A gang exploits its young members in both social and economic ways, the real gang leaders are much older
adults....they are not your peers, they are hardened criminals often behind bars...and they are not behind bars for improving their communities."
Q: "Won't a young person to meet more potential dates for possible romance in a gang?".
A: "That is possible...the current fact is gang members often do have sex at an earlier age than other youths...but the hard national facts now also show that you get what you pay for...the fact is gang members (male and females) are significantly more likely than their counterparts in delinquent populations to have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), including infectious and contagious diseases such as: genital herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS or HIV, including "Drip".
Q: "How could joining a gang affect my future career?"
A: "Join a gang, and you must fight for your gang or be beaten by your gang: so if you do ever have to defend your gang nation, you might be actually committing a violent criminal offense...and if you are caught you automatically forfeit any chances of ever becoming a medical doctor or a lawyer and many other real careers (i.e., in government, etc)".
Q: "What are gangs fighting for, aren't there important differences between them?"
A: "Wrong....gang members regardless of what gang or nation they belong to show a similar almost identical social developmental profile...their differences are only symbolic (i.e., the words and phrases and colors they use). Gangs are pretty much about the same thing: trouble."
Q: "Adults always badrap gangs, but aren't gang members loyal to one another?"
A: "Wrong again...between a fourth to a third of all gang members would testify against you in court even if you were in the gang...why? Because there are a lot of snitches in gangs today, and when it comes down to it, they look out for guess who? Themselves. Loyalty among gang members is another myth."
Click here to return to the HOMEPAGE of the NGCRC: