Gang Violence Psychology

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Understanding the psychology of gang violence: implications for designing effective violence interventions Daryl Harris, Russell Turner, Ian Garrett and Sally Atkinson Ministry of Justice Research Series 2/11 March 2011 Understanding the psychology of gang violence: implications for designing effective violence interventions Daryl Harris, Russell Turner, Ian Garrett and Sally Atkinson This information is also available on the Ministry of Justice website: www.justice.gov.uk/publications/research.htm Analytical Services exists to improve policy making, decision taking and practice by the Ministry of Justice. It does this by providing robust, timely and relevant data and advice drawn from research and analysis undertaken by…show more content…
Bias in the records has been noted in terms of geography, index offence, and ethnicity. What is not known, however, is the extent that the original 150 prisoners on the list, and thus those who were interviewed, are representative of the wider population of convicted violent gang members in prison. For example, a sample drawn from another city is firstly likely to have a differing ethnic composition. The desk research discussed how the ethnic composition of gangs tends to reflect the ethnic composition of the areas where they are based. Secondly, it may be the case that gangs have different experiences in different cities and regions. The themes would need to be tested on a sample of convicted violent gang members from other cities. The researchers also noted that the original sample excluded high-level organised criminals (as defined by Hallsworth and Young, 2006). As a result application of the findings of this study to organised crime should be approached with much caution. Finally, the researchers acknowledged that all members of the sample were held in custody at the time of interviewing. This might impact on the generalisability of findings to gangaffiliated offenders ‘on the street’. However, they noted that there was a high degree of overlap in the findings of this study and other studies of gang members not in custody. Acceptance rates (the proportion of those asked who agreed to be interviewed) at the…show more content…
The notion of achieving status by being above others appeared to a key aspect of experience. Critically looking down on others, even by dismissing their own past behaviours as immature, allowed a person to retain a sense of being above or better than peers left behind. It also keeps a general sense of self as a good person. It is interesting to note that for some participants the position of maturity was experienced positively as an opportunity. For example, some had clear wishes to become positive mentors for younger gang members still on the streets, to help them out of gang culture. The second way participants could talk about maturing was the role of a new focus or meaning in new life. Often this was a new relationship, such as becoming a father. There was a sense of having something else to live for, suggesting that gang life was all they had prior to becoming a father. Some participants also conveyed that the desire to be a good role model for their child was motivation enough to cease criminal activity. The third way participants critically reflected was in terms of a forced re-evaluation. This was where they felt let down or abandoned by the group to which they belonged. For example, some participants felt that perceived strong bonds and trust had proved to be weak or nonexistent by members not being there when they were needed. Reports from gang
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