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Gang Violence Essay

1333 words - 6 pages

Gang Violence 1


Gang Violence in Salinas

Angelica Mejia-Rutland

Portland State University

Gang Violence 2

There are certain distinct crime problems that notably stand out to the citizens of a community. Problems that the community would like addressed, reduced, and eventually eradicated. The crime problem I would like to address in this paper is the dilemma with gang violence in the community I was raised in, Salinas, California. I will explain the problem, the underlying theory of the root causes of the problem, and deliver a proposition on what we ...view middle of the document...

Gang Violence 3

Recently, there has been an escalation in the amount of gang related shootings and homicides in the community. While typically most of the violence occurred in one area of town, it has now found itself slowly integrating into other parts of the city that have not yet before witnessed the violence first hand. Since there is such a strong presence of gang members in the community, many people are scared to speak out about crimes that are committed by gang members for fear of their own personal safety. This fear makes the problem with gang violence very hard to address. Another contributing factor of why the crime problem is so difficult to address is because the Salinas Police department has been quoted as saying, "There is no indication of (a gang war)…There's nothing that connects one shooting to another. We have no ballistics, witness statements, informant intelligence - nothing coming to us indicating one shooting is in any way related to the other" ( However, per a conversation I had one week ago with a correctional officer from the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, CA, he stated to me that the Department of Corrections does indeed have knowledge of why the violence in Salinas has increased. The Salinas Police Department has not reached out to work with them therefore there has been no exchange of intelligence. If there was a more efficient line of communication between the departments the prominence of gang violence could potentially be reduced.

The underlying causes of the prominent gang violence in the community seem to be a breakdown of the populace’s capacity to manage the actions of those who inhabit the area. As stated previously, the majority of the gang activity occurs in one particular area of town. This brings to mind Stark's theory of dangerous places. The theory suggests

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“…that such factors in the physical environment lead to moral cynicism among residents, to increased opportunities and motivation for crime, and interfere with the ability of residents to control the behavior of those who occupy the space” (Paulsen & Robinson, pg. 64). The theory also suggests that it can be used “… to explain why certain groups of people engage in criminality more than others, without relying on individual level factors as explanations. It holds that the reason some people commit more crime than others is because of where they live, who they interact with, and the conditions they experience in their neighborhoods” (Paulsen & Robinson, pg. 65). This definition alone would explain the reason why most gang activity is conducted in a certain part of town. Gang members typically interact with other gang members, gang members seem to have a tendency to reside in close proximity of each other, and most street gangs are formed in order to build “…an allegiance for a common purpose” ( ...

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