Juvenile Street Gangs and Community Corrections. According to C. Ronald Huff “, While results vary from one region to another, the overall picture that emerges is that gangs engage in a wide array of criminal behaviors, including those involving weapons and violence” (Huff, 1998, p 2).
Current approaches within the juvenile justice system at a national level vary widely as local jurisdictions will address juveniles according to the state laws or local regulations and these tend to vary widely. Generally speaking, the use of community corrections is not often applied and juvenile gang members without familial support tend to end up incarcerated in corrections centers and in some cases can be sentenced as an adult utilizing the various approaches to blended sentencing that exists in the United States. However in some areas intervention is being attempted and community corrections as well which can benefit the individuals, however, in his report Huff says, “Because prevention programs will not deter all youths from joining gangs, it is also important to address the brief window of opportunity for intervention that occurs in the year between the “wannabe” stage and the age at first arrest” (Huff, 1998, p 7). This shows the importance of connecting with the juveniles before they get truly involved in the gang lifestyle.
It would be beneficial with juveniles to begin addressing the problem in the schools and homes so that the individuals becoming gang members realize that there are alternatives to what is being offered by neighborhood gangs. By educating the juveniles and showing them the various options available there is a greater chance of preventing future issues within each community and with juveniles who may be at risk due to home-based, or location-based stimuli. At this point, it would be important to involve the community in the corrective measures because in many ways it is the community that is allowing this to occur through either a lack of attention to juveniles growing up or conditions that may exist causing the need for additional “support” through association with gangs. “When starting a program for delinquency and gang prevention, a community should conduct a gang-problem assessment to identify elevated risk factors that lead to child delinquency and gang involvement” (Howell, 2010, p 9).
In conclusion community-based intervention and corrections are far more beneficial in the long term than simple incarceration, however, this does not mean that it should be used in all situations. There may, in fact, be scenarios that call for incarceration, violent crimes, multiple repeat offenders and other individual cases may, in fact, require incarceration versus a community intervention, corrections approach. Additionally, while the cost may, unfortunately, be high monetarily addressing each case on an individual basis would also seem to be more beneficial for the individual juveniles. .