Free Klein And Maxson’s Gang Reduction Model Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Gang, Youth, Teenagers, Law, Strategy, Actions, Crime, Activity

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/11/18


There lacks a standard definition when it comes to gangs. Various scholars and research teams have come up with varied ways of looking at the term. The National Gang Center (2015) provides several terms that are synonymous with the word gang. These are street gang, youth gang and criminal street gang. Through these terminologies, two aspects stand out when talking about gangs. These are the street aspect and the street crimes. The first street aspect is all about the socialization process that takes place in the streets for the gangs, while the other crime aspects define what the gangs are involved with. The crimes include assaults and robberies that are meant to challenge the mechanisms that the community has put in place in order to control the community members
There are, however, certain common features that set apart gangs from the ordinary groupings in the society. One of these features is a certain degree of organization that gangs have which conspicuously misses from other groups. The gangs also possess certain items that may be symbols or names that give the gang members a certain sense of identity; the kind that sets the gang apart from others in the community. Finally, the gangs have been observed to be involved in certain kinds of organized crime that seems to follow certain rules and guidelines.

Gang Development

The question of why and how gangs develop raises many possibilities. In different cultures with different social problems, the factors that explain gang formation are amazingly similar. Howell (1998) notes that by studying gangs in different countries, he has come to the conclusion that generally the youth join gangs due to a certain void they feel inside them. The youths in this case have a lot of unfulfilled needs that are seemingly satisfied by joining gangs. To best explain the phenomena that unmet needs are the driving force behind formation and development of gangs, most scholars look to the Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This psychologist provides a model through which the various human needs, whether social, biological or psychological can be studied. According to him all those needs can be put into two classes; higher level needs and the lower level needs. Maslow points out that for a person to be satisfied in the society, the lower level needs need to be met followed by the pursuit of higher level needs.
The lower level needs are made up of physiological needs such as food and shelter; and safety needs which entail protection from any kind of harm; either bodily or emotional. The higher needs that are pursued after fulfillment of the lower needs include a sense of belonging, achieved by receiving affection acceptance and through friends; esteem needs that are met by having some sense of status and self-actualization needs that drive one to fulfill the perceived individual potential. Bringing Maslow’s explanation into the issue of gang formation, the youth who seemingly lack a sense of security in their homes or schools may be forced to gang up with other youth who also have the same problem. Through this, the togetherness they achieve gives them a sense of security. In another case, if they lack a sense of belonging, they will gang up with others who feel the same in order to get friendship and gain acceptance.
Howell (1998) therefore sees gang development as a means of the youth trying to adapt to certain social conditions they experience. The conditions are mainly unmet needs that the society through the normal means has been unable to provide. Their development can, therefore, be blamed on a number of issues in the society. First is the failure of the societal socialization agents. Given that schools and even families fail to do their part, seeds are sown for gang development. Time is another contributing factor where the inability of the youth to indulge in constructive activities drives them into gangs. The societal inability to also provide means of making a living such as good jobs for the youths also drives the development of gangs.

Effectiveness of Research and Gang Prevention Strategies

Over the years, extensive research has been conducted on various related to gangs and gang activity. In doing this, researchers have held conversations and conducted surveys on gangs and their members and have thus come up with rich literature on different aspects of gangs (Klein & Maxson 2006).
The problem is that there seems to be a gap between the present body of research and the effective implementation of gang prevention strategies. Various scholars have compiled a large number of programs that give approaches to gang reduction and prevention. Law enforcement agencies, however, report that these strategies offer mixed results with some even reporting failure.
Klein & Maxson (2006) point out that the use of former street gang members and their leaders is a factor that leads to failure of some gang prevention strategies. They are given the role of reaching out to the current gang members, and this brings out mixed results. Their form of intervention makes access to gang information easy due to their previous connection but also has the danger of compromising the effectiveness of the programs while creating rapport.
Another aspect that hinders the effectiveness of gang prevention strategies is the unintended results that come up as a result of the implementation of these strategies. The strategies often base their operation on group dynamics and may unintentionally do harm by reinforcing these group beliefs in the gangs. The result is the gangs that are under intervention become stronger rather than weakening them.

Gang Reduction Model as Suggested by Klein and Maxson

Maxson and Klein's model is based on the understanding that when it comes to fighting crime, a single prevention measure or approach is not viable. Given the dynamic nature of gangs and gang activities in different communities and in different geographical locations, it is not practical to come up with a single solution that can be spread out through all agencies. This raises the need for adoption of comprehensive approaches that bring together contribution from various sectors or players. This is why the model of prevention, intervention and suppression gathers more support and is seen as the most likely approach to bring success (Maxson and Klein (2006). This Comprehensive Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Model has been viewed by scholars as one with the ability to succeed where previous models have failed. Where implemented, the model provides communities with procedures that have resulted in a considerable reduction of gang-related activity.


The first strategy in this model is prevention. Here, Maxson and Klein note that the focus moves from the perceived effects that gangs have on the community members to explaining the reasons why the youth join the gangs in the first place. As explained before in this paper, a number of factors drive people to join gangs. The goal of this first step is to come up with solutions that counter the entry of the youth into gangs. The most viable solutions here include opening up opportunities through which vulnerable youth can earn a living through legitimate means. This first entails mapping out areas that are at the highest risk in terms of harboring criminal activity and then focusing on the individual groups who are most susceptible to joining gangs. In formulating the prevention strategies, Maxson and Klein note that they should be tailored to fit the specific characteristics of the community under scrutiny. This means that they should be culturally compatible, and the level of intensity of the interventions should match the level of crime risk that the community as a whole faces.
In any preventive approach designed, some specific aspects are expected to feature. These are issues such as specifying behavioral standards, noting dress codes, having regular adult supervision in youth activity, coming up with communal work or extracurricular activity where the youth are involved, and ensuring a certain level of cooperation with law enforcement agencies. In these prevention strategies, the final goal is preventing the youth from joining gangs but this is periodically arrived at by meeting certain objectives along the way. These include changing the perception the youth have about gangs and the police and even improvement of academic performance. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (2015), two programs, Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT), and the Gang Prevention Through Targeted Outreach (GPTTO) are examples of preventive programs. The GREAT program which has its focus on elementary and middle school going youth showed success in changing the perception toward the gangs but had a limited effect towards gang membership. The GPTTO program on the other hand provided opportunities for better use of the time the youths had but had no impact on gang enrollment.


The second strategy in the Maxson and Klein model is intervention. This involves dealing with individual gang affiliated members in an institution such as a school. Here, a team of professionals draw up intervention programs targeting specific gang members and can engage them or even refer them to agencies that work on gang-related activity. Here, the individuals can be monitored in order to keep check on issues such as possible drug use and affected mental activity. School has, for instance, been shown to provide an avenue through which gangs get new members. It is the responsibility of teachers and other players to note the affected youth and this can be achieved by being on the lookout for violent of criminal activity among the youth. In doing this though, precautions must be taken because dealing active gang members is a very sensitive issue.
In implementing intervention strategies, therefore, certain features have to be present. These include consulting with the parents of the affected youth, improving the supervision levels for the students and offering counseling services for the affected youth. The implementation of intervention strategies may take the shape of those targeting individuals engaging in gang activity or sensitizing the community on approaches that can be taken to counter gang activity. Various evaluations done on these approaches reveal some level of success in some instances and failure in some. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (2015) analyzes the impact of two programs Gang Intervention Through Targeted Outreach (GITTO) and Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development (BUILD). The GITTO program is an intervention version of the earlier mentioned Gang Prevention Through Targeted Outreach (GPTTO). This has seen considerable success in creating better relationships for the youth at school and even in their families. Consequently, it has led to a reduction in the risk of associating with gang activity. The BUILD program, on the other hand, focuses on youth that are frequently placed in detention. Through its implementation, it has reduced the frequency and number of crimes that are committed by gang youths who belong to gangs. Maxson and Klein note that in either case, the stakeholders need to understand the importance of collaborative effort among forming professionals that are involved in dealing with the youth join gangs. These include the police, social workers, and even probation officials.


The third aspect in the gang reduction model, as suggested by Klein and Maxson, involves suppression. Here, deliberate efforts are taken by various agencies and especially the law enforcement agencies to cut the effect of gangs and gang activity. Here, the police, in particular, draw up strategies that enable them to prevent the spreading of gang activity and its effect on the community. The gang-related activity is therefore seemingly restrained into specific areas thus achieving some sense of greater good for the society.
In suppression, certain aspects mostly involved with the legal framework are addressed. One is ensuring that the law enforcers have their presence felt when doing patrol in given areas. The idea here is to ensure that the police presence dents the occurrence of gang activity. The suppression also goes on to the courtrooms, where the prosecutors and judges ensure that captured gang members are swiftly placed in prisons as opposed to the usual time it takes for the due process to occur. Another option can be the enforcement of strict rules when it comes to probation or parole. Here, the gang affiliated people are closely monitored to ensure minimal contact with the rest of the citizens. Implementation of curfews is also a common way of suppression where gang affiliated members have limited number of hours to be in public. On the same breath, suppression is also done by the creation of safety zones; which are places where gang affiliated members are prohibited by the law to be in or activities that gang members are prohibited from indulging in.
Suppression programs despite their inability to deal with major gang related issues deters the youth from joining the gangs. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (2015) gives the example of The Tri-Agency Resource Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET). The focus of this program has been the incarceration of gang affiliated youth. This is however not the only measure taken since the program calls for increased levels of supervision among the gang members. Through its implementation, TARGET has seen a considerable reduction in the number of felonies that gang members commit over time. Many scholars, however, view the suppression tactic to be most ineffective compared to the other strategies put in place. This is because it is focused on suppressing the visibly destructive or harmful aspects of gang activity but ignoring the idea of reducing gang formation or the joining of gangs by people (Payrooz et al., 2010)
The Klein and Maxson model for gang reduction calls for a balance between the three philosophies. This is because research has shown that if one of the approaches is singled out for implementation on its own, the chances of success are minimal. The main idea, therefore, is to combine preventive programs that deal with potential membership to gangs with intervention programs dealing with the gang-affiliated youths and suppression measures that attempt to habilitate already active gang members. A combination of these strategies according to Klein and Maxson will lead to success where other strategies have failed when it comes to gang reduction.


The number of gangs has been observed to grow at a rate of about 12 percent in every five years (NGC, 2015). Various factors have led to the development of these gangs. This calls for policymakers to come up with strategies that effectively deal with the issue. The Klein and Maxson model is one of these measures with the ability to deal with the proliferation of gangs. Efficiently combining the three philosophies as shown in the model increases the chances of success when it comes to the gang reduction agenda.


Bureau of Justice Assistance. (2015.). Gang programs/Strategies. Retrieved February 18, 2015, from
Howell, J. C. (1998). Youth gangs: An overview. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Klein, M. W., & Maxson, C. L. (2006). Gang Structures, Crime Patterns, and Police Responses.
Pyrooz, D. C., Decker, S. H., & Webb, V. J. (2010). The ties that bind: Desistance from gangs. Crime & Delinquency.

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