Prospects for the Future
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So what are the prospects for the future? In the next decade or so, is the gang picture likely to improve? I fear not. First, our approaches to intervention and control are likely to be more of what we have already seen. Second, street gangs are the by-product of urban problems likely to increase in severity. Third, we've allowed -- indeed, we could not have prevented -- the widespread diffusion of street gang culture. Finally, there are signs that our unique American street gang is emerging in other nations as some of their urban situations come more to resemble ours. This chapter will be concerned with these issues. I apologize ahead of time for the pessimism, but I think it is simply realistic, just as it was ten years ago when John Quicker noted:
In short, the general outlook for reductions in gangs and gang-related crime is poor. In fact, the opposite appears likely. Worsening social and economic conditions, federal roll backs of hard-won civil rights legislation and a potential increase in racism, and an expanding minority youth population, all portend a deleterious gang situation. Barring any major political and economic changes . . . an increase in gangs and gang crimes seems likely. 1
Predictions are dangerous, of course, but in this chapter I want to look at several factors that I think will characterize gangs and gang control for the immediate future. They are among the sources of my pessimism: a misplaced emphasis on networking and information sharing among enforcement agencies, the continuing contribution of