Gang Membership, Drug Selling, And Violence In Neighborhood Context

1994 words - 8 pages

Smiley is a man who was released back into the society on a parole. He was sent back to live in his neighborhood. Shinichi Suzuki, a famous Japanese violinist who invented Suzuki Method, got the right idea of Smiley’s situation when he said “Man is a child of his environment”. It means that Smiley is a product of his environment. His neighborhood is a no picnic.
The neighborhood is a basically a graveyard of American dreams. Like everyone else in America, Smiley values individualism, achievement, money, and family unity highly. However he is in a hostile society where his rough background is rejected and regarded as a stigma. He does not have education or an escape from his neighborhood ...view middle of the document...

On personal level, it is not just environment that made Smiley deviate; it is because of people who Smiley hangs out with most too. Smiley calls his gang "his homies” and values them like a family that he never had before. His mother left him to run wild with a bad crowd so there was nobody else that Smiley can turn to. The local ties rather than parental involvement (Wilkinson, 2007) in his early life contributed to his sense of need for to belong to a gang.
The theory of differential association (Shelden, Brown & et al. p.82) supports the idea that simply associating with deviants, Smiley turned into a criminal. In fact, Bellair and Mcnulty’s research compared the risk of the gang members and non-gang members who are involved in illegal activities in a poor neighborhood . It ( Bellair & Mcnulty, 2008)found that gang members had highest risk of causing violence and disorder in the society. Smiley looked up to his gang members as role models for his life and he learned his trade from them. This is a good example of social learning theory which claims that anyone can learn to be a criminal by just going through a process. This process of criminalization is made of three stages; acquisition, instigation, and maintenance. Smiley went though all of the stages at a young age. He modeled his behavior after his gang’s actions, got positive feedback from the gang (a sense of belonging, support, and protection) for his actions, and his continued membership with the gang ensure that he keep behaving the way that the gang wants (Shelden, Brown, & et al.p.83).
So Smiley is trapped within a deviant culture of a gang, by his learned norms, and the final nail in his coffin is that the society does not want him to change. His parole officer put him in same environment with same people who have sent him to the prison. Nobody really wants to hire him in legal businesses and when they do, they just have him do jobs that won’t give him same level of satisfaction that he had with his gang. So in other words, the society expected him to give up his high life with gangs for a way less satisfying life with meager resources. It is not surprising that Smiley failed since the society set him up to fail in the first place.
Regina had problems after being set free like Smiley. Regina is a mother who was struggling with her addiction to meth and drinking. She was sent to the prison for stealing money. There are several possible criminal theories that may explain her criminal history. She started doing petty crimes and did some drugs at first but then she experienced no serious consequences of her actions. She felt so alive with drugs and stolen money made her rich.
In other words, she continued to break laws because she experienced no deterrence for her actions. A theory called rational choice (Shelden, Brown, Miller & Fritzler, 2008) became popular in 1970’s and 1980’s which said that people may sometimes make wrong choices because of illogical reasons (p. 71)....

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