Gangs in Atlanta
Gangs are the illegal organizations that terrorize individuals, government, and enterprises. Years ago, many countries did not have an initial plan of dealing with the problem. Nevertheless, today, many of them, along with cities and states, have come up with new policies of fighting gang-related crimes. Gang violence is one of the major crimes since 1980’s. It is a call to the lawmakers to come up with a strategy of eliminating the activities and formation of the gangs. National Youth Gang Center released statistical information indicating that more than 24,500 gangs that have members exceeding 770,000 exist in America in approximately 3,330 cities (Anderson, Nye, Freitas, & Wolf, 2009). The congress accounts for more than twenty billion dollars annually as the cost of taking care of gang shot victims and incidents related to gangs, and street violence from gangsters. It is not easy to define a gang, especially from a legal perspective. Therefore, many cities has taken the responsibility of coming up with a strategy of eliminating gang activities from a city level. The paper will address the unique law that targets gangs in Atlanta. The law is not put in place to govern a single gang but all gang activities in the city. The paper will further address how the policy has been implemented and its reception in the city.
It took a long period with numerous consultations both locally and externally to come with the policy. Uncountable resistance was also witnessed but, at last, Atlanta was able to come up with a policy known as Street Gang Prosecution and Terrorism Prevention Act (Anderson et al., 2009). It was adopted in 1998 to fight street gangs and ease their prosecution. The law intends to combat gang crime not only in Atlanta, but also all over the Peach state. It is a under a responsibility of the Office of Deputy Chief Assistance District Attorney, Gang Prosecution Unit, and the Judicial System. The criminal justice systems have taken it in a specialized way prosecuting gangs and improving the public safety. To come up with the law and to create the policy, criminal justice system had used a number of evident occurrences. The first was that there was no legal formula for dealing with gang activities in Georgia. Second, gang activities were a danger that terrorized streets with criminal activities (Londono, 2013). Third, there were uncountable cases of injury and death because of gang activities. Fourth, the police force was extremely busy struggling to solve gang issues. Gangs were real, and there was a need to combat them and protect public safety. The FBI also provided evidence that there were more than one million gangs operating in American streets committing crime activities. The report further indicated that 80% of the crimes that affect the community since 2005 were caused by gangs activities and more than half of the victims of gang shooting were innocent (National Gang Intelligence Center [NGIC], 2011). The report was indicating that gangs are closing American borders and expanding their territories on the American soil.
Enforcing the Policy
After the formulation of the law, different criminal justice organizations were given the responsibility of its enforcing. Among them, the local police of Atlanta, which were given the responsibility of conducting investigations regarding gang activities. The responsibilities include establishing the routes of gangsters and their activities, and identifying specific individuals who actively participate in gang activities. The police were also assigned the responsibility of arresting gang members and presenting them to a court. They should further collect evidence and identify potential witnesses, as well, to present in law courts. More than that, a member of the General Public gang was given the responsibility of providing information about gangsters to the police. To ensure that such information does not put their life into a risk, the city administration provides witness protection programs. The judicial system takes it to the next step of evaluating evidence and determining whether the culprits are guilty. If found guilty, they are sent to the local prisons and rehabilitation centers (Cullen & Wilcox, 2010). Therefore, the law is enforced through the cooperation of different stakeholders who must work together to succeed.
Since 2003, the federal government acknowledges the concern of Atlanta in its fight against gangs, drugs, and violence. Putting in place the new policy and implementation of the law have now been active in Atlanta for a good period. The city now has evidence, including judicial reports and statistical data, that crime that occurs from gang-related cases has reduced (NGIC, 2011). The media has also been reporting minimal cases and law violation issues forms gangs. It implies that the law has minimized the number of gangs operating and stopped the formation of new gangs within the cities. Violence and dispute have also reduced in a significant way. It is evident that among the key area of interest where gangs operate is narcotic distribution. With the new law, drugs distribution has reduced in Atlanta since all member of a specific gang are prosecuted together or leaving no one behind to continue with their activity (NGIC, 2011). Therefore, it is referred to as an effective action of resolving the gang problem.
The media is an important tool to the social, political, and economic development of a city. The media equips citizens with the information hence giving it the power to influence many decisions in the society. At the beginning, before the development of the gang law, all citizens were complaining about the eminent threat of gang criminal activities in the city. They used the media houses, social media, and print media to air their problems. Therefore, the media was at the forefront in advocating for the creation of a new law that can eliminate the problem in the society. Every now and then, the media was reporting on direct criminal occurrences that were committed by gangsters. Therefore, after the creation and proper implementation of the law, the media has supported the criminal justice systems in fighting gang crimes. It reported that lack of proper laws is the key thing promoting gangs formation. However, some of the media personals do not provide positive support for the war against gang actives. They address it as a strategy of victimization, especially of specific race and ethnicity. They argue that the law is used to eliminate specific groups in the region that do not support government activities.
Today, local leadership is a worldwide problem, which is raised by the community leaders and community activists who focus on the issue from the angle of race or ethnicity. When the law was proposed, the city faced a hard time from the community activists especially from the Latinos and the African-American. They argued that for many years, these two ethnic groups have been associated with a crime without evidence. Therefore, the law would endanger the lives of young people from the two communities since they will be victimized and jailed without enough proof of being members of the specific gang (Beaver et al., 2013). With the support of a few media stations, the community leaders slowed down the process of making the law effective in the city. Since the beginning of the law implementation, they have raised their voices against different cases with no proof that the victims are not active members of a given gang. They seem to support crime activities since they interfere with the criminal justice system in their investigations and court proceedings. Many of them have accepted that the laws have reduced the crime rate in the city and promoted public safety. However, a number of them still resist the efforts of making the law an effective strategy of fighting crime.
From a sociological view, gang activities are a threat to America that requires combating. Team prosecution of gangs is a good step that has the ability to promote justice and reduce the number of operating gangs. The city management should take it into account and initiate strategies of empowering criminal justice systems in their effort to combat gangs. Although the law can encourage victimization, it is important to evaluate and consider the dangers that come alongside having gangs in the streets. The most effective weapon in the modern world is creating a legal system that has the necessary tools of eliminating crime. Therefore, creating a law of fighting gangs can be termed as a decisive strategy of combating crime. The federal government has shown efforts through the FBI and the CIA. The congress has also participated through catering for the treatment fee for the victims of a gang shooting. Therefore, the act of saving Atlanta from becoming a colony of gangs is an effective step. It reduces drugs flow, violence and disturbance of the peace (National Research Council of The National Academies, 2014). Law enforcement officers should be empowered to ensure that they do not become biased in their operations. Community leaders are very important people in the society as they act as the voice of the voiceless. Therefore, it is important to listen to them and put their views into consideration. To ensure that victimization does not occur, an independent body should be formed to investigate and oversee the activities of criminal justice system especially in cases where community leaders feel that there is no justice. Here, they should conduct an independent investigation and determine the credibility of the information and advice the stakeholders on the way forward. The formation of the RICO (racketeer influence and corrupt organization) in 1970 helps in fighting and prosecuting mafia organizations. Therefore, Atlanta’s plan of eliminating the challenge is a positive step of fighting mafia organizations within the city (Beaver et al., 2013).
In conclusion, the city of Atlanta is among the most affected by gang activities in America. Local institutions such as the Judicial Records and federal institutions such as the FBI relied on data from local and international institutions and gathered evidence to proof that there was a threat of gang activities hence a need for an effective policy. The policy was created to ensure that gang activities were well defined and gangsters prosecuted and disciplined according to the law. The law is enforced through encouraging of criminal justice city to work together. They include the police force, the judiciary, and prison and rehabilitation center. Since the creation and the implementation of the law, evidence from the FBI and criminal justice system proofs that gang activities have reduced in Atlanta. The media played a good role in creating awareness on the importance of coming up with a law of fighting gang activities. It has continued to support the project and serves as a watchdog to ensure that the law is not used in a bad way. Community activists have been airing their grievances as a strategy of ensuring that the law is not used to victimize their community and deny them justice. It is an important strategy that, despite people’s opinions, reduces the rate of crime and promotes public safety. Other cities should learn from Atlanta and develop similar policies.