Introduction to Gangs in America: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Introduction to Gangs in America

1st Edition

By Ronald M. Holmes, Richard Tewksbury, George Higgins

CRC Press

170 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781439869451
pub: 2011-12-02
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Gangs have long been a social and criminal threat to society. Introduction to Gangs in America explains how gangs are addressed as a criminal justice and public policy problem, providing a student-friendly, easily accessible, concise overview of the role, place, structure, and activities of gangs in American society. The book describes what gangs are, what differentiates them from each other, how they share similarities, and how they fit into contemporary American culture.

The authors explore the history and structure of gangs, reveal their clandestine activities, and analyze their social impact. The book also includes information on gender issues in gangs, and provides insight into how gangs impact American educational institutions

Offering an insider’s account, the book provides in-depth profiles of specific gangs, including:

  • Europe’s five major biker gangs
  • The Outlaws
  • The Hell’s Angels
  • The Bandidos
  • The Pagans
  • Bloods
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Black Guerrilla Family
  • Mexican Mafia
  • Texas Syndicate
  • Neta

Discussion questions appear at the end of each chapter, stimulating debate and classroom discussion.

It may never be possible to eradicate gangs from our culture. But by understanding their structure, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and how they operate, law enforcement can better protect the public from their nefarious activities. This text gives future law enforcement professionals rare insider insight into a subject typically shrouded in secrecy.

Table of Contents


The Structure of Gangs

Types of Gangs

Racial and Ethnic Gangs

Chicano/Hispanic Gangs

Asian Gangs

Types of Gang Members

Gang Members: Perpetrators and Victims

Gangs and Homicide

Defining and Counting Gang Homicides

Characteristics of Gang Homicides

Who Is Involved

Where Gang Homicides Occur

How Gang Homicides Are Committed

Drive-By Shootings

Homicide and Other Criminal Offenses

Gang Homicide and Community Crime Rates

Gang Homicide and Other Homicides/Assaults

Drug Trafficking

Gangs and Police

Police Response to Gangs

Police Gang Units

Gang Unit Officers

Community Partners Working with Police

Creating and Sustaining a Successful Strategy to Address

Gang Problems

Gangs and Schools

Extent of Gangs in Schools

Motivations to Joining a Gang

Gang Recruitment

Effects of Gang Membership and School Gang Affiliation

Gangs and School Violence

Motorcycle Gangs

America’s Motorcycle Gangs: A Brief History

Biker Violence in Other Countries

Europe’s Five Major Biker Gangs

Motorcycle Gangs in the United States: The Big Four

The Outlaws

The Hell’s Angels

The Bandidos

The Pagans

Gang Structure

The Outlaws Motorcycle Gang

History of the Outlaws

Organization and Definition of Officers

Colors and Patches of Sets and Memberships

A Day in the Life of an Outlaw

Criminal Behaviors

Brotherhood and Collegiality

The Pagans Motorcycle Club

History of the Pagans Motorcycle Club


Criminal Activities

Patches and Colors

Chapters and Subsets

The Bandidos Motorcycle Club

A Short History of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club

Criminal History of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club

The Hell’s Angels

A Short History of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club

Membership Requirements

Patches and Colors of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club

Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club Charters

Crime, Criminals, and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club

Women in Gangs

Research on Females in Gangs

The Number of Females in Gangs

Crimes and Delinquency of Females in Gangs

Risk Factors Associated with Females Joining Gangs

Prison Gangs


What Is a Prison Gang?

Profiles of Prison Gangs


Aryan Brotherhood

Black Guerrilla Family

Mexican Mafia

Texas Syndicate


Islamic Gangs

Structure of Prison Gangs

Prison Gangs and Prison Culture

Prison Gang Leaders

Prison Gangs and Violence

How Prison Officials Work to Control Prison Gangs

Gang Policy

Community Policies

Spergel and Curry’s Developmental Community


Effectiveness of These Policies

A Risk-Focused Approach

Individual Characteristics


Healthy Beliefs and Clear Standards

Examples of Community Policies and Programs to Reduce

Gangs and Gang Life

Legal Policies






About the Authors

Ronald M. Holmes, Richard Tewksbury, and George E. Higgins are with the Department of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Security / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science