Sunday, February 07, 2016

Gang children - growing the problem

"The proportion of gang members and affiliates in New Zealand’s prison population has grown. The 2003 Department of Corrections census of prison inmates showed that gang members and affiliates accounted for 11.5 percent of the sentenced inmates. Over two thirds of those inmates belonged to either the Mongrel Mob or Black Power gangs. As of April 2013, gang members and affiliates comprised over 30 percent of inmates, with over 10 percent of the prison population belonging to the Mongrel Mob. Forty-six percent of prisoners under the age of 19 have gang affiliations."

"The literature suggests that single-faceted approaches are unlikely to be effective in dealing with gang issues. Suppression in particular has been criticised as largely ineffective in reducing involvement in gangs and offending.

In 2008, the Ministry of Social Development noted that:

A sole suppression strategy is costly…and gains are short term. Suppression has proven the least successful of all interventions and can have a negative impact as members convert stigmatisation into a symbol of status. Further … a reliance on the Police as public commentators on gang issues can be problematic, as many have narrow views of gangs and criminality, which may then be perpetuated
through the media leading to simplified notions about how best to respond.

Black Power member Denis O’Reilly similarly notes: “You have got to have an integrated response. But if the only weapon you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail”.
Moreover, suppressing and imprisoning gang members can exacerbate the problem by providing gangs the opportunity to recruit new members in prisons, dominate prison culture and run criminal activities within prisons such as contraband trading. Prisons are a major recruiting ground for the largest ethnic gang in New Zealand – the Mongrel Mob – and a Mob chapter was formed in Auckland Maximum Security Prison in the late 1970s."



Brendan McNeill said...

How hard would it be to segregate gang members into their own prison unit(s)? Wouldn't that eliminate recruiting in prisons entirely?

How hard have we really tried in our attempt to make belonging to a criminal organisation (gang) more trouble than it's worth?

I'm sure the three strikes legislation is helping, but how about non-association orders for gang members who are convicted of a criminal offence that was 'gang related' with heavy penalties for breaches.

How about the occasional tax audit?

Regular routeene searches for drugs and/or weapons on the premises?

How hard can it be?

Anonymous said...

How hard would it be to segregate gang members into their own prison unit(s)? Wouldn't that eliminate recruiting in prisons entirely?

Easy in theory - but then those prison units will be run by the respective gangs. Harder in practice when the "accommodation" doesn't fit the numbers - you can only put gang members in to the gang-run units.

How hard can it be?

If you're prepared to be hard enough, it's easy. Think the CRS in the Parisian banlieues, or the RUC in Belfast. But little old NZ hasn't had that kind of police force since 1871, with a few exceptions ('51 and perhaps '07). We're not prepared to be that hard.

Kim Workman said...

According to gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert, the 4,000 gang affiliates identified by the Police in its crime data, includes those who:
a) Were charged together with a New Zealand adult (meaning ‘patched’) gang member for the same offence
b) Had an identified familial tie with a New Zealand adult gang member
c) Had an identified connection to a New Zealand adult gang member
If this is still how gang affiliates are defined, then the former Minister of Police’s estimate that 28% of all prisoners are gang affiliates, creates a very wide cohort; the potential for net-widening is significant. Māori are being imprisoned at a rate six times that of non-Māori, and for Māori males born in 1975, it is estimated that 22 percent had a Corrections-managed sentence before their 20th birthday, and 44 percent had a Corrections-managed sentence by the age of 35. It is therefore .likely that most Maori, especially those living in marginalised communities, will have familial connections to, or an identified connection with, gang members. Those living in poor communities have contact with gangs on a daily basis; at school, community events, and sporting and cultural activities. Others will be deemed to be gang members by virtue of their birthright. There are a growing number of young Māori who are lawyers, and professionals, who have at least one parent who are patched gang members.

Kim Workman

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Notwithstanding identification as gang members or associates may be overblown, the essential problem remains. State suppression isn't reducing gang criminality nor the likelihood their children will become gang members in turn. I'd like to be wrong.