Glossary of Terms
Aid and abet
"To actively, knowingly or intentionally assist another person in the
commission or attempted commission of a crime." (Delaware
"Heroin trafficking is a major source of income for Asian gangs.
Asian gangs also engage in extortion, armed robbery, and high tech crimes. The 14k triad is the largest triad worldwide. It was formed after the second
world war by Nationalists fleeing Communist Chinese. The Kung Lok was
founded in TO by Lau Wing Kui. The Kung Lok triad was involved in illegal
gambling, and extortion." Reprinted here with permission of the author
and copyright holder, Wade O. Koromantee.
Most commonly used to refer to people who "hang" with
gang members. They are sometimes the friends or acquaintances of
documented gang members. The gang manual for one police department I studied defines a gang associate
as "a person who admits to criminal street gang association and either resides or frequents a particular street
gang's area and adopts their style of dress, use of hand signs or symbols, is identified as an
associate by a parent, guardian, or corroborated statement of the department or an informant, is identified as an associate by physical evidence such as
a photograph or other documentation or has been arrested more than once in the company of identified gang members for offenses consistent with criminal
street gang activity."
Core gang member
Some gangs are large and diversified enough to have an identifiable
structure. At the center one may find the leaders of the gang
surrounded by the core members. The core members are the more
criminally active and long-term members. Other positions in a
gang may include "associates" and "wannabes," (for whom
a better name may be "gonnabes"?). Gangs 101 provides
more information on gang structure.
Documented gang member
A documented gang member is an individual who has been officially
identified by law enforcement authorities as a gang member. An
individual may be identified as a gang member through self-admission (verbal
or through such identifiers as color of clothing, tattoos, etc.),
identification by his or her associates, by an individual or individuals
living in proximity of the gang member, or through law enforcement
The process of socialization involves interaction and communication with
other human beings through which an individual learns about his or her
culture. The process begins at birth and may last for a
lifetime. Learning about one's culture through the mass media,
Internet, and other electronic forms of communication is referred to here as
electronic socialization. Electronic socialization may occur without the presence of
another living human being.
Gang displacement occurs when community and/or law enforcement pressures
are brought to bear on the members of a gang and they move their criminal
activities to a different location.
Gang entrenchment occurs when a gang establishes a seemingly permanent
presence in a given neighborhood. The culture of the neighborhood is
the culture of the gang.
In its most complete form, gang entrenchment includes liaisons with area land owners and landlords, local
businesses, police, probation and parole officers, prosecutors, local
politicians, and public defenders. The liaison may be clandestine and
passive (as when justice practitioners overlook "minor" violations
of law such as minors in possession of alcohol or the use of marijuana) or
blatant and aggressive.
Note: While observing drug dealers in
the central city, I discovered area business owners allowed the
dealers to store their drugs in the business establishment. The
dealer paid "rent" to the business owner and was seen
going in and out of the store all day long picking up a small amount
of drugs to sell, going out on the street, selling them, then
returning to the store to load up once again.
Collusion between gang members and business owners and others in a
neighborhood makes it very difficult to reduce the gang's presence.
Gang member-based crime
(Also referred to as "gang-related" or "member-related.") A gang-related
or member-related crime is one in which a gang member is either the
perpetrator or the victim or both, regardless of the motive. (National
Youth Gang Survey, 1998) A member-related crime is a criminal act which is
not motivated by the alleged offender's gang
but was, rather, an act committed for the sole satisfaction and benefit of the alleged
The gang may not even have known about the act. Use of
the "member-related" definition for statistical purposes will likely produce
numbers of gang crimes since it is easier to show an individual is a
member of a gang than to prove that the gang motivated the gang member to
commit the crime.
The advantages of using the member-based definition include the tracking
of all gang incidents, the increase in intelligence it provides, the numbers
it generates may facilitate funding/grant opportunities, and it helps
perpetuate and expand the efforts of anti-gang treatment programs.
Among the disadvantages are an unrealistic inflating of a gang's criminal
method of collecting data on gang-related crimes is best ...
gang-motivated or gang-member based?
Gang motive-based crime
A crime committed by a gang member in which the underlying
reason for committing the crime is to further the interests and activities of the gang is referred to
as a motive-based crime. The "motive" is the furtherance of the
gang's interest. (National
Youth Gang Survey, 1998)
|Field Note: A
gang unit sergeant asked "If a registered sex offender walks
into a Git-n-Go and steals a candy bar, should it be labeled as a
sex offense? The same holds true for documented gang
members. If a documented gang member walked into the Git-n-Go
and did the same thing, would that be a gang-motivated crime?"
Gang motive-based crime refers to a criminal act committed by a known gang
member on behalf of his or her gang rather than for the sole satisfaction or
the alleged offender. Use of the "gang-motivated" definition
statistical purposes will likely produce lower numbers of gang crimes due to
the difficulty in proving the offender is a gang member and that his illegal
act was motivated by his or her gang.
Among the advantages of using the motive-based definition are that it
gives a more refined statistic, one that speaks directly to the influence of
the gang on the criminal activities of its members. Among the
disadvantages are that "motive" is often difficult to prove,
some gang crimes may go unreported, and the lower statistics that it
produces may foster a denial of the seriousness of the gang situation. Which
method of collecting data on gang-related crimes is best ...
gang-motivated or gang-member based?
As much as one day in every three or four served may be subtracted from
the length of the original sentence if the inmate behaves well. That
is, with good time an inmate with a 12 years sentence may serve on one third
or one fourth of the original sentence. Upon being released
early the inmate will be placed on parole.
Breaking into or entering a home, apartment, or hotel room for the purpose of
committing a criminal act while the resident(s) is present. While
Asian gangs are best known for committing this crime, it is also committed
by other kinds of gangs and by non-gang offenders. The reason for waiting to
enter until the resident is present is to intimidate the resident so that no
police report of the incident is made.
Homies is plural for "Homey." "Home boy"
may also be used. All refer to a close friend, someone from the same
neighborhood, or a fellow gang member.
The tendency for the most recent immigrant group to suffer discrimination
and other settlement difficulties often resulting in some of their members
To incarcerate someone is to confine them by use of force. The most
common form of incarceration is jail (for adults and juveniles) or prison
(exclusively for adults or juveniles who have been tried as adults). There
are facilities for juveniles - sometimes called camps, schools, or farms -
where juveniles are confined by force. The level of force used in any
facility defines whether it is a place of minimum, medium, or maximum
Meth is a shorted form of the word methamphetamine. It is an
illegal substance or drug which causes the user to feel a
"high." It often results in physical addition and abnormal,
unpredictable, and aggressive behavior. You can
more about meth from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will
be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an
attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you
cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense. Do you understand these rights?"
You can learn
more about Miranda Rights.
The nickname of a gang member or associate. The
nickname may be provided by the gang or provided by oneself. Monikers
may reveal a personality characteristic of the person they identify, a crime
specialty, some other characteristic of the person, or nothing at all.
An original gangster (O.G.) is typically an older or senior gang member or, in some cases,
the founder of the gang. Original gangsters are held in high regard within
a gang and sometimes mentor the gang members (Gs) and wannabes (WBs). In
Hispanic/Latino gangs original gangsters are sometimes referred to as veteranos.
Latin: A British common law creation whereby the courts have the right to
make unfettered decisions concerning people who are not able to take care of
themselves. For example, court can make custody decisions regarding a child
or an insane person, even without statute law to allow them to do so, based
on their residual, common law-based parens patriae jurisdiction.
Due to their age, juveniles ("minors") are viewed as
incapable of taking care of themselves, therefore the juvenile court (judge)
takes on the role of parents ("paren") to determine the course of
action which would be in the best interest or welfare of the child.
Some convicted persons are sentenced to prison with no possibility of
parole. Most convicted persons sentenced to prison, however, are
allowed to be paroled as long as they behave well in prison. If they
do behave well they may be given "good time."
A person placed on parole is one who is given a conditional early release
from his or her prison sentence. While on parole the individual
must, among other things, stay crime and drug free and report regularly to
his or her parole officer.
In a plea bargain the accused offers to plead guilty in exchange for a
concession from the state (the prosecutor). Among the many
possible concession are lowering of the sentence, dropping of one or more
charges, dropping felony charges while keeping misdemeanor charges, or the
promise of a short sentence or small fine.
The set of facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably
intelligent and prudent person to believe a particular individual had
committed, was found committing, or is intending to commit a crime.
A sentence given in lieu of a sentence to prison. A person on probation
will be supervised in the community by a probation officer as long as
specific conditions of that probation are satisfactorily fulfilled. If any
one or more of the conditions are violated (i.e., committing a crime,
carrying a weapon, failing to appear for treatment, failure to report to the
probation officer), the probationer may be sent to prison for the remainder
of his or her original sentence.
A case which, when brought to court, has a high probability of concluding
with a plea bargain or a verdict of guilty is referred to as having
prosecutorial merit. Cases which have less certain outcomes do not have
Recidivism, when used in the context of prisons, typically refers to the
proportion of inmates who return to prison following their release from a
prior period of incarceration. That is, if an inmate serves his
time and receives a conditional early release (called parole) or is
discharged (freed after serving a full sentence), commits a new offense, is
convicted of it and given a new prison sentence, he has recidivated back to
Prison recidivism rates vary widely from one state to another and depend
upon the level of security (minimum, medium, or maximum) at which the inmate
was held. Estimates of the nation-wide rate of recidivism varies from
20% to 40% within the first 2 to 5 years from the date of release from the
last incarceration. These are only estimates as few states know
whether inmates they released ended up incarcerated in another state or
changed names and ended up locked up in the same state under a new
Saturation policing involves the assignment of a great number of police
to a specific area. It may be used for special occasions (i.e., an event
that will bring protesters together, the presence of a dignitary or other
individual or group that is likely to attract criminal activity, a search
for a particular individual or individuals) or on a regular basis in
response to a known pattern of criminal activity over time. For example, if
criminal activity occurs with some regularity on Fridays in a certain park
over a period of several weeks, the police may begin saturating the park
area on Fridays to deter such activity as well as to make arrest when
When a writer reads original research by other researchers then writes,
perhaps, a synthesis of their works, the work that is produced is the result
of secondary analysis. The primary analysis was done by the researcher
who produced the original research.
Perhaps you've heard of Bloods, Crips, People, or Folk. Those are
the names of gangs and there are many "sets" (or clikas in
Hispanic gangs) within each. In some communities there are dozens of Blood
sets, Crip sets, and others. They are each typically named after a different
local neighborhood, street, park, school, or valley. Although the set's' names may end with the word
"Blood," or "Crip," it doesn't mean they know or
work with one another. In fact, there may be bad relations
between certain sets within the same gang name (Blood, Crip, etc.) The nature of the relationship between sets varies
day to day within the same community and from community to community.
A gang member who is a leader, one who "calls the shots" in
terms of what activity the gang will participate in, who will participate in
it, etc. A gang may have more than one shot caller, one for members
who commit theft, another for those involved in the illegal drugs market,
and so on.
A social institution consists of a group of people organized around
the statuses and roles of the individuals in the group. Those
statuses and roles are defined in such a way that they help the social
institution achieve its unique goal or task. Among the more
significant social institutions in any society are the family, faith,
education, health care, government, commerce, the media, and the justice
In the family, some of the statuses would be father, mother,
child, brother, sister, uncle, etc. Each status has a variety of
roles to play and the roles of each status vary from the other. In
the faith community there are, for example, the statuses of minister and
member of the congregation, each with its unique roles. The same
principle applies in the other social institutions.
The process of social interaction and communication through which an individual
comes to learn and internalize the culture of their society or group.
Socialization takes place throughout a person's life but is especially
intense from birth through childhood as we are socialized into society.
Socialization continues, for example, as we learn how to do a job, behave in
a marriage, act as a parent, and deal with retirement.
Sociology is a behavioral science, and a sociologist is someone who
studies social relations between people, people and groups, and between
groups. Other areas of investigation include culture, social
institutions, and social structures. The impact of the
individual upon society and society's impact on the individual are also a
topic of interest to sociologists.
Since its inception in the 1800's, the study of sociology has expanded to
include the field of criminology, gender studies, race and ethnic relations,
social psychology, and many others. Visit the site of the Sociology
Dictionary for an
Status offenses include underage drinking,
truancy, curfew violations, incorrigibility, and running away. Status offenses would not be defined as crimes if committed by adults.
The word "status" refers to the age of the offender. Status
offenses are offenses only juveniles can commit.
A sweep takes place when law enforcement officials, usually with arrest
and search warrants in hand, enter a neighborhood with the intent to serve
all the arrest warrants (make arrests) and search warrants (conduct
searches). This law enforcement technique is often used when making arrests
of a large number of alleged drug-related offenders, prostitution or theft
rings, and other large-scale criminal operations.
The following story comes from Katz's and Webb's research on the police
gang unit in Las Vegas (NV).
In Las Vegas, gang unit officers used a much more
aggressive strategy that many of them referred to as a sweep. The
members of each gang enforcement squad worked as a team. The team would
split into four pairs, each assigned to its own squad car.
At the beginning of the shift, the team would agree
on the areas they were going to sweep and the order in which sweeps
would be conducted. To begin, generally all four vehicles would rally at
a single point outside the specified neighborhood. From there, one pair
of officers would patrol down the 'hot street' - a street or area where
gang members were know to loiter or conduct street-level drug sales. Two
other pairs in squad cars would patrol the two streets immediately
parallel to the hot street, keeping pace with he lead car.
The forth squad car would remain out of sight at
the end of the street, slowly patrolling toward the other three. This
tactic involved squeezing gang members toward the center of the targeted
area. Then if a suspect fled on foot or in a vehicle, one of the squad
cars would be in position to pursue and stop that person. (Katz
and Webb, 2004, p. 262, italics in original.)