Gangfighters Weblog

August 15, 2012

Parents anger misdirected — should be upset with themselves

Filed under: gang, ganglaw, gangs, law — carterfsmith @ 10:33 am

A recent headline — Parents angry after finding children’s names on police ‘gang lists’ contains the epitome of parental denial of a problem.

Are there really parents in today’s world who believe their kids are innocent just because the kid says they are?

Back in the day, women who attended Mom School learned to tell their kids that who you are is affected by with whom you associate. This advice was more likely passed on with comments like, “Don’t hang around them boys — they are trouble.”

Men had a school, too, but many of us failed to graduate, so all we were able to say in support was “You heard your mother, boy, don’t make her tell you again.”

Apparently Mom and Dad school have lower attendance numbers or, maybe, this isn’t taught any more. Nonetheless, it’s a timeless principle — except when you fail to accept responsibility for the children you bring into this world.

Here’s a few clips from the story, in an attempt to put (what I see as) the reality into perspective . . .

Neither boy had ever been arrested and, (the mother) said, (and) neither was involved with gangs.

Well, the mother may be an authority on whether her son had ever been arrested, though the police would know better. She is not an authority on whether her son is in a gang, unless, of course, she is with him around the clock. What this response means is either 1) my son told me he is not in a gang and those drawings on his school papers and suspicious friends he hangs with don’t convince me otherwise, or 2) I have more important things to do than keep track of my son’s whereabouts and have taught him that denying reality makes it go away.

. . . more than 50 people, all but a few of them black, showed up . . . heard eight representatives of law enforcement agencies, all but two of them white, tell them why they keep these lists and how they use them.

Anytime the media, or observers for that matter, make a point to note the races of those involved without also showing why that was important, it’s not. More police officers are white and more street gang members are black. That’s not something that affects the facts of the case. I am pretty sure it doesn’t change readership.

JR got on the list, according to Largo police records, because police found 11 pictures of him online displaying 119 Boys hand signals, and because a police officer saw him once with other gang associates, and because he once ran away from a sheriff’s deputy while accompanied by another gang member. “It’s hurtful,” said JRs mother, about her son’s inclusion.

Those facts, for people who are not the boy’s parents, serve as a clear indication that he at a minimum has an interest in local gags and more likely is an associate or member. These are also an indication that the boy’s parents haven’t seen the indicators or have ignored them and denied they are indicators. They are not an indication that the police intended anything to be “hurtful” as that’s not in their job description.

. . . prosecutors use the lists to get higher bail amounts and longer prison sentences. Prosecutors need to prove gang membership to a judge before a harsher sentence can be imposed. Public Defender Bob Dillinger doesn’t like how the lists are used to set higher bail.”You have no way of knowing it (gang member status) is accurate,” Dillinger said. “If the police say it, that’s it.”

No, Mr. Dillinger, you actually have a way to know whether the list is accurate — beyond the police simply “saying it” — it’s the part above where it says “Prosecutors need to prove gang membership to a judge.” That’s how (and why) our justice system works.

If you saw this as a rant, then it’s over. Something had to be said. If you are a parent and want to know what indicators to look for — check out the warning signs.

What do you think?

May 30, 2012

Gang Laws and their inability to be useful against real criminals

Filed under: DoD DIR 1325.6, gang activity in college, gang member, ganglaw, law — carterfsmith @ 10:24 am

It has been my ongoing impression that the people who create gang laws think that gangs recruit exclusively from the lower-class, uneducated, unambitious parts of our society. Though some of the followers may be found in these populations, a good amount of gang leaders would make good non-gang (read: not criminal) leaders had they made different decisions. There’s a term called 3G2 (Third Generation Gangs) that may explain why focusing on the low-hanging fruit (more on that another time) is not a good idea.


http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=11212

Anti-Gang Law Rarely Used: FoxMEMPHIS.com

With that said, our lawmakers have a habit of offering us feel-good anti-gang laws that either have no teeth or no application. I think the placement of the law in the “Laws On Children, Youth And Families section is an indicator of this.


If the laws lack teeth, police officers cannot use them for what they were (maybe) intended. An example of the no-teeth part might be seen in Tennessee Code Annoted (TCA) 40-35-121, which I have been told is fairly useless as an enhancement guideline for sentencing.


The Code allows for serious gang-related crime to be charged/enhanced one (1) classification higher than the crime committed. The requirements to be met, however, are much steeper than simply showing the suspect is a gang-member. Moving the hurdle higher is like taking the teeth out of it, the law won’t be used.


If the laws have no application, then they don’t apply to the real world — indicating the creation of the law was neither well-thought-out nor well-coordinated. An example of this no application part would be the federal legislation “intended” to prohibit active gang members from serving in the military. That’s another topic for another day.


Lately, at least in Tennessee, there appears to be a shift. Not only are gang cops consistently busting their butts to identify and arrest criminal gang activity, but now the legislators are showing signs they are listening. 


The new law, introduced by Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, who introduced the bill along with Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, would place criminal gang offenses within the state’s existing Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, where convictions would be class B felonies with sentences ranging from at least 12 to 20 years. You should note, though, that cases big enough for RICO-like charges are likely to get the attention of the Federal Prosecutors, as noted by Sgt. Todd Royval. It was the federal RICO laws that were successfully used against the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) a few years back.


The measure expands RICO, previously restricted to child pornography and drug trafficking.


It redefines “racketeering activity” to include committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit or soliciting or coercing someone else to commit a criminal gang offense, including threatening or knowingly causing injury or death; receiving money or anything of value from the commission of an aggravated burglary; or from the illegal sale, delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance or firearm.


Note that it’s the RICO laws that are being expanded, but the original law is being incorporated into it. It will take some time to see if the prosecutors can/will do something with this. I know they could not before this.


What do you think?


Public disclaimer: I am a founding board member of the Tennessee Gang Investigator’s Association, headquartered in Hixson, so I might have a propensity to think gang cops don’t get enough support.


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March 10, 2009

Even the lawyers get it! Why can’t the Pentagon act NOW?

Filed under: cid, fort bragg, gangs in the military, knox, law, ngic — carterfsmith @ 1:21 pm


With more than 1,000,000 criminal street gang members in the United States, communities everywhere are experiencing the negative effects of street gangs (National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC], 2009). As a result, government officials are searching for innovative and effective ways to restrict the negative impact of gang-related activity on the community. One way of reducing gang-related activity is through gang prevention legislation.

In 1992, Knox (2006) surveyed members of a National Guard unit and found they estimated gang membership in the military from zero to 75%. To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted.

On December 12, 1995, following racially-motivated homicides at Fort Bragg, NC, the Secretary of the Army established an investigative task force to “assess the influence of extremist groups in the Army and examine the effect of those groups on the Army’s human relations environment.” The task force reported: “Gang-related activities appear to be more pervasive than extremist activities as defined in Army Regulation 600-20” (U.S. Department of Defense, 1996, ¶ 16).

Following the homicides at Fort Bragg, members of the Department of Defense concluded that gang members adversely affected the military in a variety of distinct ways. The authors noted there was no official accounting of the scope and nature of the problem; however, the individual branches of the military thought the problem was significant enough to publish gang identification manuals (Flacks & Wiskoff, 1998). To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted .

A 2006 Gang Activity Threat Assessment (GATA) by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) reported an increase in both gang-related investigations and incidents in 2006 over previous years. The most common gang-related crimes involved drug-trafficking (CID, 2006), though assaults, homicides, and robberies were also reported.

In 2007, the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), a multi-agency effort of the U.S. Department of Justice, distributed an unclassified report that identified incidents of gang activity by military and military-affiliated personnel, similar to the findings of Flacks and Wiskoff (1998) and Knox (2006), and identified gang-related crimes such as murder, racketeering, and drug distribution.

As noted in Can you prevent membership in organized criminal groups if you are the SecDef?, H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Section 544 – became law (Public Law 110-181), and requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations to prohibit the active participation of military personnel in street gangs (National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], 2008, Sec. 544). The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President back in January 2008, yet here we are, more than 14 months later, with no changes to military policy on gang membership.

Gustav Eyler, Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696 (2009) recently concluded
:

While the threat and presence of military gang members has intensified over the past decade, the military has done little to improve its existing policies. It is time for this to change. The military needs to overhaul its recruitment process, draft new regulations to detect and prevent gang influences, and improve its removal procedures. The various military services should
accomplish this by coordinating with other agencies and adopting the best practices of civilian law enforcement groups. By seizing the opportunity provided by Congress, the military may realize its goal of sustaining a robust fighting force that is free from the influence of criminal street gangs.

So what’s it going to take?

References:
Eyler, G. (2009). Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696. (thanks to Court-Martial Trial Practice for the link)

Flacks, M., & Wiskoff, M. F. (1999). Gangs, Extremists Groups, and the Military: Screening for Service . Retrieved November 19, 2008, from http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai

Knox, G. W. (2006). An introduction to gangs (6th ed.). Peotone, IL: New Chicago School Press.

National Defense Authorization Act. (2008). (Pub. L. No. 110-181. 122 Stat. 117). Retrieved September 30, 2008, from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-4986

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2007). Intelligence assessment: Gang-related activity in the US armed forces increasing. Crystal City, VA: National Gang Intelligence Center.

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2009). National gang threat assessment – 2009. Washington D.C.: National Gang Intelligence Center.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command [CID]. (2006). Summary Report Gang Activity Threat Assessment: A review of gang activity affecting the Army. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from http://militarytimes.com/static/projects/pages/2006_CID_Report.pdf

U.S. Department of Defense. (1996, March 21). Army task force report on extremist activity. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=793

Even the lawyers get it! Why can’t the Pentagon act NOW?

Filed under: cid, fort bragg, gangs in the military, knox, law, ngic — carterfsmith @ 1:21 pm


With more than 1,000,000 criminal street gang members in the United States, communities everywhere are experiencing the negative effects of street gangs (National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC], 2009). As a result, government officials are searching for innovative and effective ways to restrict the negative impact of gang-related activity on the community. One way of reducing gang-related activity is through gang prevention legislation.

In 1992, Knox (2006) surveyed members of a National Guard unit and found they estimated gang membership in the military from zero to 75%. To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted.

On December 12, 1995, following racially-motivated homicides at Fort Bragg, NC, the Secretary of the Army established an investigative task force to “assess the influence of extremist groups in the Army and examine the effect of those groups on the Army’s human relations environment.” The task force reported: “Gang-related activities appear to be more pervasive than extremist activities as defined in Army Regulation 600-20” (U.S. Department of Defense, 1996, ¶ 16).

Following the homicides at Fort Bragg, members of the Department of Defense concluded that gang members adversely affected the military in a variety of distinct ways. The authors noted there was no official accounting of the scope and nature of the problem; however, the individual branches of the military thought the problem was significant enough to publish gang identification manuals (Flacks & Wiskoff, 1998). To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted .

A 2006 Gang Activity Threat Assessment (GATA) by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) reported an increase in both gang-related investigations and incidents in 2006 over previous years. The most common gang-related crimes involved drug-trafficking (CID, 2006), though assaults, homicides, and robberies were also reported.

In 2007, the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), a multi-agency effort of the U.S. Department of Justice, distributed an unclassified report that identified incidents of gang activity by military and military-affiliated personnel, similar to the findings of Flacks and Wiskoff (1998) and Knox (2006), and identified gang-related crimes such as murder, racketeering, and drug distribution.

As noted in Can you prevent membership in organized criminal groups if you are the SecDef?, H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Section 544 – became law (Public Law 110-181), and requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations to prohibit the active participation of military personnel in street gangs (National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], 2008, Sec. 544). The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President back in January 2008, yet here we are, more than 14 months later, with no changes to military policy on gang membership.

Gustav Eyler, Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696 (2009) recently concluded
:

While the threat and presence of military gang members has intensified over the past decade, the military has done little to improve its existing policies. It is time for this to change. The military needs to overhaul its recruitment process, draft new regulations to detect and prevent gang influences, and improve its removal procedures. The various military services should
accomplish this by coordinating with other agencies and adopting the best practices of civilian law enforcement groups. By seizing the opportunity provided by Congress, the military may realize its goal of sustaining a robust fighting force that is free from the influence of criminal street gangs.

So what’s it going to take?

References:
Eyler, G. (2009). Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696. (thanks to Court-Martial Trial Practice for the link)

Flacks, M., & Wiskoff, M. F. (1999). Gangs, Extremists Groups, and the Military: Screening for Service . Retrieved November 19, 2008, from http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai

Knox, G. W. (2006). An introduction to gangs (6th ed.). Peotone, IL: New Chicago School Press.

National Defense Authorization Act. (2008). (Pub. L. No. 110-181. 122 Stat. 117). Retrieved September 30, 2008, from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-4986

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2007). Intelligence assessment: Gang-related activity in the US armed forces increasing. Crystal City, VA: National Gang Intelligence Center.

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2009). National gang threat assessment – 2009. Washington D.C.: National Gang Intelligence Center.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command [CID]. (2006). Summary Report Gang Activity Threat Assessment: A review of gang activity affecting the Army. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from http://militarytimes.com/static/projects/pages/2006_CID_Report.pdf

U.S. Department of Defense. (1996, March 21). Army task force report on extremist activity. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=793

Even the lawyers get it! Why can’t the Pentagon act NOW?

Filed under: cid, fort bragg, gangs in the military, knox, law, ngic — carterfsmith @ 1:21 pm


With more than 1,000,000 criminal street gang members in the United States, communities everywhere are experiencing the negative effects of street gangs (National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC], 2009). As a result, government officials are searching for innovative and effective ways to restrict the negative impact of gang-related activity on the community. One way of reducing gang-related activity is through gang prevention legislation.

In 1992, Knox (2006) surveyed members of a National Guard unit and found they estimated gang membership in the military from zero to 75%. To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted.

On December 12, 1995, following racially-motivated homicides at Fort Bragg, NC, the Secretary of the Army established an investigative task force to “assess the influence of extremist groups in the Army and examine the effect of those groups on the Army’s human relations environment.” The task force reported: “Gang-related activities appear to be more pervasive than extremist activities as defined in Army Regulation 600-20” (U.S. Department of Defense, 1996, ¶ 16).

Following the homicides at Fort Bragg, members of the Department of Defense concluded that gang members adversely affected the military in a variety of distinct ways. The authors noted there was no official accounting of the scope and nature of the problem; however, the individual branches of the military thought the problem was significant enough to publish gang identification manuals (Flacks & Wiskoff, 1998). To date, no follow up research of this nature has been conducted .

A 2006 Gang Activity Threat Assessment (GATA) by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) reported an increase in both gang-related investigations and incidents in 2006 over previous years. The most common gang-related crimes involved drug-trafficking (CID, 2006), though assaults, homicides, and robberies were also reported.

In 2007, the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), a multi-agency effort of the U.S. Department of Justice, distributed an unclassified report that identified incidents of gang activity by military and military-affiliated personnel, similar to the findings of Flacks and Wiskoff (1998) and Knox (2006), and identified gang-related crimes such as murder, racketeering, and drug distribution.

As noted in Can you prevent membership in organized criminal groups if you are the SecDef?, H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Section 544 – became law (Public Law 110-181), and requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations to prohibit the active participation of military personnel in street gangs (National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], 2008, Sec. 544). The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President back in January 2008, yet here we are, more than 14 months later, with no changes to military policy on gang membership.

Gustav Eyler, Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696 (2009) recently concluded
:

While the threat and presence of military gang members has intensified over the past decade, the military has done little to improve its existing policies. It is time for this to change. The military needs to overhaul its recruitment process, draft new regulations to detect and prevent gang influences, and improve its removal procedures. The various military services should
accomplish this by coordinating with other agencies and adopting the best practices of civilian law enforcement groups. By seizing the opportunity provided by Congress, the military may realize its goal of sustaining a robust fighting force that is free from the influence of criminal street gangs.

So what’s it going to take?

References:
Eyler, G. (2009). Gangs in the Military, 118 Yale L. J. 696. (thanks to Court-Martial Trial Practice for the link)

Flacks, M., & Wiskoff, M. F. (1999). Gangs, Extremists Groups, and the Military: Screening for Service . Retrieved November 19, 2008, from http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai

Knox, G. W. (2006). An introduction to gangs (6th ed.). Peotone, IL: New Chicago School Press.

National Defense Authorization Act. (2008). (Pub. L. No. 110-181. 122 Stat. 117). Retrieved September 30, 2008, from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-4986

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2007). Intelligence assessment: Gang-related activity in the US armed forces increasing. Crystal City, VA: National Gang Intelligence Center.

National Gang Intelligence Center. (2009). National gang threat assessment – 2009. Washington D.C.: National Gang Intelligence Center.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command [CID]. (2006). Summary Report Gang Activity Threat Assessment: A review of gang activity affecting the Army. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from http://militarytimes.com/static/projects/pages/2006_CID_Report.pdf

U.S. Department of Defense. (1996, March 21). Army task force report on extremist activity. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=793

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