New Jersey is one of many US states which have been negatively affected by the presence of street gangs. Almost half of the towns in New Jersey have a great number of street gangs. Crime has increased dramatically due to a high percentage of formerly incarcerated criminals, the prosecution of street gangs members, the rivalry between gang leaders, the availability of firearms and dangerous weapons, and other illegal acts. In fact, formerly incarcerated criminals who join the street gangs engage in violence and various brutal crimes since they are not afraid of going to prison. The prosecution of gang leaders encourages reckless youngsters to commit vicious crimes, such as murder, to lead the street gangs. An access to the weapon and widespread illegal acts, such as drug trafficking and robbery, have significantly contributed to the increased rate and violence in the state of New Jersey. Therefore, law enforcement authorities and stakeholders should establish policies that will regulate street gangs and substantially reduce the number of violent crimes associated with street gangs in New Jersey.
Street Gangs and Violence
New Jersey has been adversely influenced by the presence of street gangs which still exist in many states of the USA. The prevalence of street gangs in the state of New Jersey is rampant in all the counties. Street gangs operate in both urban and rural areas of New Jersey. According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety Division of State Police, half of the towns in the state reported having a strong presence of street gangs. In particular, the survey conducted in 2010 provided extensive data on the number of distinct gangs and their subsets within the state. It focused on their demography and major activities. The main street gangs in New Jersey counties include Latin Kings, the Bloods, Crips, and Pagans Motorcycle Club. According to the survey, the criminal activities of street gangs in New Jersey have escalated over the recent years. The gangs continue to pose a major threat to the security of the public. Therefore, crime in the state has increased dramatically due to a high percentage of formerly incarcerated criminals, the prosecution of street gang members, the rivalry between gang leaders, the availability of firearms and dangerous weapons, and other illegal acts.
Street gangs in New Jersey have been a major concern for the citizens and the law enforcement authorities for more than a decade. They have established a strong presence and conducted operations in more than half of the towns in New Jersey. The street gangs are characterized by the high membership and the intensity of the negative impact of their criminal activities on the security of citizens in the state. Some towns in New Jersey have been also experiencing the adverse effects of multiple gangs which coexist in a single environment. Most of the street gangs in New Jersey have developed effective leadership structures that enable them to commit crimes efficiently, thereby resulting in an increasing number of violent cases which are reported every day. Therefore, the well-coordinated operational structures in street gang organizations allow the gang members to engage in violence and vicious crimes with a lower risk of being caught by the law enforcement authorities in the state.
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The crime figures show a dramatic rise in the rate of murders committed by the street gangs. It can be attributed to the fact that the majority of gang members are former criminals who served jail terms. The main types of violent crimes committed by street gangs include assault and homicide. This is because the street gangs consist of the members who served the jail term for other crimes and, therefore, are not afraid to engage in violent crimes to pursue their interests in the organization. The formerly incarcerated members of street gangs can also commit violent crimes in order to avoid going back to prison. Therefore, the presence of formerly incarcerated criminals in street gangs of New Jersey has increased the murder rates.
Street gang violence in New Jersey is widespread due to the prosecution of street gang members, particularly those who are regarded as the leaders. Many gang leaders were arrested and prosecuted in the state because of their active involvement in criminal activities. According to Moriaty, the majority of people who are charged with violent crimes in New Jersey belong to the street gangs. The violent crimes include assault, stabbing, shooting, and murders. The members of street gangs commit them in order to enhance the operations and to establish their power in the particular area. Thus, when the leaders face prosecution, reckless young followers, who do not respect life or fear of jail term, rigorously lead and run the operations of street gangs in New Jersey. Their actions have resulted in an increase in gang-related violence and murder. Moreover, the uncontrolled young members of street gangs employ violence to resolve all the disputes and disagreements that may occur because they receive support from the older street gang members. The public trials make the street gang leaders famous. Thus, the prosecution can have an adverse effect because the public could start being interested in the activities of street gangs. Moreover, it has significantly contributed to the rate of street gang-motivated violence since the members kill people for petty reasons. Therefore, the prosecution of street gang leaders in New Jersey has resulted in reckless behavior from other members of the gangs and unhealthy public interest in the life of street gangs.
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The rivalry between the members different street gangs has also leveled up the number of murders associated with street gangs. This rivalry exists when the members of a particular street gang invade the territories of other gangs. The borders emerge according to the line where the members of street gangs sell merchandise or run operations. In addition, rivalry can exist between street gangs when one gang steals the products or kills the members of other street gangs thereby causing violent crimes as the members of the aggrieved gangs seek vengeance. This rivalry can be indicated by random homicides that are reported to the law enforcement authorities. For instance, the gangs may kill people who threaten to report them to the police. The street gangs may also kill people who resist following their orders in certain instances, including robbery and theft. Therefore, the rivalry has significantly increased the rate of violent crimes and murders associated with street gangs in New Jersey.
Access to firearms and other dangerous weapons also increased the rate of street gangs violence and murder cases. The availability of firearms has changed the number of street gangs. According to Megerian and Meagher, there are approximately more than two hundred gangs and more than fifteen hundred subsets of street gangs that have been operating within the states of New Jersey. The established laws and regulations regarding ownership and handling of guns are not stringent and cannot limit the public access to firearms. Consequently, the street gang members have obtained an access to the firearms with which they commit crimes thereby resulting in an increase in the number of death cases that occur daily. In addition, street gangs may also steal guns from the police and other licensed firearm holders. As a result, a huge number of uncontrolled gang members have a direct access to the means of violent crimes. In fact, the accessibility of firearms has significantly contributed to the ability of street gang members to commit a crime with lower chances of being caught. Street gangs also engage in illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, which enable the organizations to purchase firearms and other weapons. Therefore, the accessibility of firearms is one of the major reasons why people commit violent crimes. Undoubtedly, gun possession could not prevent the murders. Instead, it acts as a catalyst for violence and murders in New Jersey, especially if street gang members decide to have it as a protection.
The risky nature of illegal activities that street gangs in New Jersey engage in has contributed to the widespread violence and murders. Street gangs launch various illegal activities, such as extortion, drug trafficking, robberies, and murders. They know that only extreme violence can guide them in the effective running of the operations which lead to terrible crimes in the state of New Jersey. For example, the involvement in drug trafficking has increased the number of violent crimes committed by street gangs since the drug distribution is an illegal business which poses a significant risk to the community. In New Jersey, the street gangs are involved in the drug trafficking business which is known for being their main income generating activity. The activities related to drugs distribution are very dangerous, and individuals charged with such crimes end up in jail. Therefore, the members prefer to kill those who may report them. Moreover, they murder the officials from law enforcement authorities. These actions have substantially contributed to the number of violent crimes committed in New Jersey. In addition, street gang members might become the victims of violence from rival gangs, their leaders or fellow gang members. Therefore, the nature of criminal activities that street gang members undertake has significantly contributed to the increased level of violent crimes and murders.
In conclusion, the street gangs operate both in rural and urban areas of New Jersey. The main street gangs include Latin Kings, the Bloods, Crips, and Pagans Motorcycle Club. The presence of formerly incarcerated members in street gangs, the prosecution of street gang members, the rivalry between street gangs, and the involvement in other illegal activities increase the rise of violent cases related to street gangs. The number of murders also grows in New Jersey. In addition, the high number of street gangs leads to other dangerous illegal activities, such as robberies, extortion, and drug trafficking. The accessibility of firearms is one of the major contributors to the high rate of violence and murders committed by street gang members. Law enforcement authorities should establish the reinforcing policies and regulations regarding the ownership of firearms by the citizens. The stakeholders should also develop the strategies of reducing the impact of street gangs on public security.