The effectiveness of implementing juvenile programs to control criminal gangs in the state by examining the factors that motivate young people to join the groups. The study established that poor social economic status contributed significantly to the increasing number of criminal gangs in California. The study recommends the implementation of juvenile programs to reduce the prevalence of criminal gangs in California.
High prevalence of criminal gangs in California has contributed to widespread insecurity in the state. California is infamous for high incidents of homicides attributed to organized criminal gangs. Los Angeles County, for instance, has been reporting a gradual increase in the number of gang-related murders since 1979. In 1979, gang-related homicides accounted for 18.1 percent of the total number of murders reported in the county. By 1994, the number of people killed by the criminal gangs accounted for 43 percent of the total murders reported in the county. For a period of two decades from 1981 to 2001, criminal gangs were responsible for the violent deaths of 10,000 people in California (Randall, Sharon, and William, 2001). Besides the brutal murders, gangs in California are engaged in a series of crimes including credit cards and medical insurance fraud, armed robberies targeting automobiles and other valuable items (State of California Department of Justice, 1996).
The gangs’ criminal activities cost Californian taxpayers an average of two billion US dollars annually (Yoshino, 2008). To control the spiraling rate of crimes perpetrated by the gangs, the California legislature enacted the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP Act) in 1988 (VPC, 2008). The STEP Act proposed heavy punitive measures on criminal gangs, but it has been criticized for violating human rights. To address the issue of criminal gangs more effectively, it is important to implement juveniles programs in the state of California.