Although gangs actually emerged around 1783 on the east coast of America, Urban gangs or “street gangs” became prevalent during the early part of the nineteenth century. In Frederick M. Thrasher’s The Gang, he wrote that the miserable living conditions and disadvantages of juvenile gang members were not the only reasons for the emergence of street gangs. He stated that adolescent development played a key role. (Thrasher,1927)
Gangs have always posed a dilemma and during the 1960’s changing social and political climates were ingredients for the development of super gangs. Gangs became involved in predatory crimes and engaged in a battle for turf and the control of illegal markets. As neighborhoods, developed, low-income urban high rises became a breeding ground for urban gangs.
A monograph prepared by The Institute for Law and Justice, Inc. entitled Urban Street Gang Enforcement tells us that gangs have been a major contributor to increasing violent crime and now are operational in cities of all sizes along with suburban and rural areas. As of the year 2000, there were estimates that as many as 175,000 to 200,000 criminal street gang members were in California alone.
Those are staggering numbers but several factors that have focused on combating gang violence as well as suppressing gang membership have actually made an impact. There has been a decrease in the number of gang members and of youth gangs from the late 1990s until today. (Bartollas & Miller, 2011)
Thrasher, Frederic M. (1927). The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Bartollas, C., & Miller, S. (2011). Juvenile justice in america. (6 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Nancy, E. G. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/161845.pdf