chapter  9
22 Pages

"I'm Down for My Organization": The Rationality of Responses to Delinquency, Youth Crime, and Gangs: Scott H. Decker and G. David Curry

From 1985 until the mid-1990s, the u.S. experienced substantial increases in the levels of youth and gang violence. Gangs represent a substantial challenge to criminal justice and social service agencies. Justice Department estimates (National Youth Gang Center, forthcoming) suggest that there are more than 26 thousand gangs and over 800 thousand gang members in the United States. In the 1990s, gangs have greater access to automobiles and high-powered firearms than did their predecessors. And the conditions

of urban areas, particularly the growth of the urban underclass (Jackson 1991; Hagedorn 1988; Klein 1995), portend greater difficulties in ending the conditions that spawn gangs. There is also evidence that gangs are spreading beyond the boundaries of cities and gaining a foothold in suburban and rural communities (Klein 1995). These circumstances make responding to gangs a difficult task for criminal justice and social service agencIes.