Criminal Justice

Gangs: The Societies within the Society

Article and Ideas

       Martin Sanchez-Jankowski’s 2010 article, “Gangs and Social Change,” seeks to reexamine traditional and/or commonly held perceptions regarding gangs and gang activity.  The author notes at the outset the immense study devoted to the subject, but he loses no time in citing the typical approaches made in all such research; namely, that gangs are viewed as groups of individuals brought together because of similarly deviant or antisocial tendencies, or as groups gathering to engage in some form of criminal or deviant behavior.  What is evident, then, is that the author disputes the motivational cores so frequently relied upon, for he believes that gang structure indicates something more inherently reflective of society as a whole.  This point of view is seen in the two claims, or hypotheses, Sanchez-Jankowski puts forth: that gangs are not viewed correctly when they are approached as randomized assortments of deviant individuals, for their organizational aspect consistently defines them; and that this organizational or structural component is both traditionally successful and necessary in comprehending how gangs function (Sanchez-Jankowski, 2010,  p. 136).  The author then indicates that he will support these ideas through investigating and citing the drawbacks in the greater part of gang research, and subsequently presenting in greater depth the rationales behind his theories.

Prior Literature

       As Sanchez-Janlowski responsibly explores, there is a great deal of research and literature regarding the subject, and he examines important facets of it in turns.  Focusing more on work done in recent decades, the author turns to research which, as he points out in his introduction, promotes the basis for gang activity as resulting from displaced individuals coming together due to the commonality of marginalized experience.  He cites Horowitz and Vigil, for example, whose studies on Mexican American gangs are based on the formations as occurring from loss of individual or cultural identity within the mainstream society; the gang provides a sense of self-worth not afforded by the dominant culture.  Sanchez-Jankowski also presents the thinking in regard to African American and Puerto Rican gangs as evolving due to unstable home environments, typically marked by absent fathers.  The author challenges both schools of thought through identifying similarities employed to validate the gang formations which exist for untold numbers of youths not affiliated with gangs (Sanchez-Jankowski, 2010,  p. 137).  Put another way, the author disputes the validity of the approaches, in that determining factors are attached “after the fact.”  This literature cited, then, relates to the author’s hypothesis only in terms of substantiating his own theories.  Evincing consistent integrity, Sanchez-Jankowski presents multiple theories going to deprivation and deviance as virtually accidentally enabling the gang, just as he systematically points out the shortcomings. 

       More pertinent to the author’s thinking is the work cited by Fromm, which explores how distinctive and intelligent personalities, possessed of strong senses of economic and cultural capital, goes to gang formation.  This “defiant individualist” type, the author asserts, is both typically found from low-income backgrounds and a gang fixture.  Literature and research is only just emerging on this approach, which connects strongly to the author’s theories.  Evidence, nonetheless, exists; Sullivan’s study of Brooklyn gangs reveals a consistent and active presence of this calculating “defiance,” in that intelligence and cooperation within the gang is both structured and a means of “getting over,” or achieving perceived success (White, 2001,  p.  249). 

Furthermore, other work supports Sanchez-Jankowski’s claim that gang study typically relies on results and behaviors of the groups as wholes, ignoring the critical component of individual entry and motivation, aside from the standard rationales of deprivation and deviance.  Most gang research, even today, does not take into account those key variables (Katz, Jackson-Jacobs,  2004,  p. 111). 

Methods, Results

       Sanchez-Jankowski employs a qualitative approach, and one largely observational in nature.  More exactly, to establish his reasoning as to the social validity of the gang as a reflection of organizational strategy, he explores gang trends and activity through a trajectory of eras.  Setting aside the traditional focuses on deviant pathology and specific marginalization as bases for gangs, the author asserts that gangs more ordinarily represent rational forms of human agency prompted by adverse circumstances.  This is then supported by his examinations of gangs as arising under specific and widespread social conditions: immigration, blue-collar expansion, drug deregulation, mass incarceration, and monopoly behavior.  In each circumstance, and citing extensive research pertinent to each, the author makes a strong case for the integral structural aspect, if not impetus, of gangs.  He notes, for instance, that early 20th century immigration virtually encouraged gang formation through its emphasis on the defiant and aggressive individualism necessary to survive in environments typically poor and facing extreme discrimination.  Interestingly, the blue-collar expansion of the mid-20th century is presented by the author as generating an actively intelligent motive going to gang formation, in that the young men comprehended the blue-collar work of their parents as unsatisfying, and organized to create leisure for themselves.  The same processes of an organizational response fused with defiant individualism are presented as evident in the Italian Mafia’s loss of drug trade control; essentially, the young men of the neighborhoods organized in ways calculated to weaken the control and thus secure participation for themselves (Sanchez-Jankowski,  2010,  pp. 136-139).   Drawing upon documented fact and reports, the author traces an irrefutable commonality in regard to gangs over multiple eras and in differing conditions; namely, that the unique social and economic circumstances serve to generate the coming together of the more defiant young people, and in ways pointing to strategic thinking and motivations of actual advantages. 

Assessment and Implications

       It is important in assessing Sanchez-Jankowski’s article to comprehend several factors.  To begin with, and to his credit, the author detaches himself from the moral aspects so inevitably associated with gang study.  This is not to suggest that prior research is tainted, but rather that the violence and criminality of gang activity inevitably influences perspectives and approaches; given the prevalence of deviant activity of gangs, it then follows that this largely fuels investigation, and motivation becomes narrowed.  Admirably, Sanchez-Jankowski distances himself from these associations, which enables him to more clinically examine the organizational elements which, as he proposes, are very much within the motivations.  Then, the author is careful to acknowledge his own reliance upon elements common to gangs and non-gang individuals.  He notes that, as he is dissatisfied with approaches that define gangs in randomized ways, most “defiant individuals” do not join gangs.  More important, however, is that

gangs often contain these types, which indicates a coming together of organizational and individual interests (Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991, p. 29).  Through a uniform commitment to scholarly integrity and what must be termed insight, the author ultimately presents a persuasive and somewhat novel approach to gang study, observing inescapable traits and patterns within gangs reflective of societal organizations of all kinds. 

       It seems clear, based on the quality of this article, that the intended audience encompasses serious students of criminology, as well as experts in the field.  Sanchez-Jankowski has certainly provided me with a new perspective, as his thorough examination of gangs in differing eras and conditions convinces me that structure and ambition are as pivotal to the gang, if not more so, than the traditionally held motives of disenfranchisement and deviant personality.  No matter what criminal or violent activities are undertaken, I now perceive a “method to the madness,” and understand that viewing gangs as gatherings of weak, sociopathic, or socially deviant young individuals vastly underestimates the constructions themselves.  This being the case, the implications for the criminal justice system seem to me extraordinary.  In a sense, gangs are more challenging as seen by Sanchez-Jankowski because the formations of them are far more complex – and reflective of normal organizational processes – that has been believed.  These are, criminality notwithstanding, organizations in place to pursue agendas, and consequently no blanket criminal justice policy may be effective in dealing with them.  The crime must be addressed, but it may be that efforts to eradicate the gangs themselves will be seen as futile, for the social conditions will enable them whenever two or more “defiant individuals” choose to defy circumstances in a collective fashion.


Katz, J., & Jackson-Jacobs, C.  (2004).  The Criminologists’ Gang.  In  Summer, C., The            Blackwell Companion to Criminology.  (pp. 91-124).  Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Sanchez-Jankowski, M.  (2010).  Gangs and Social Change.  In Walsh, A., & Hemmens, C.,       Introduction to Criminology: A Text/Reader.  (pp. 135-142)Thousand Oaks: Sage      Publications.

Sanchez-Jankowski, M.  (1991).  Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society.       Berkeley: University of California :Press. White, S. O.  (2001).  Handbook of Youth and Justice.  New York: Springer.

Creative Writing

Michigan Criminal Justice Budgeting Issue

An online article reports that an average prisoner is spending more time behind bars in Michigan which only worsens the financial burden on taxpayers. While the national average is 2.9 years, an inmate in Michigan spends 4.3 years behind bars on the average, according to Pew Charitable Trust. The number is even greater for violent criminals at 7.6 years versus national average of 5 years. This is a worrisome trend for two main reasons. First of all, it is an unnecessary financial burden on states and the taxpayers. In addition, prison stints do little to reduce the probability of returning to life of crime, according to some experts (Campbell, 2013). I have chosen this article because Michigan has been hit hard by the financial crisis and has been faced with some of the highest unemployment figures in the nation. Given the current circumstances, it is unfortunate that the state is wasting money on keeping prisoners behind bar, a significant proportion of whom may be serving sentences for non-violent crimes such as drug offences. If this trend could be reversed, the freed-up resources could be invested in education and in providing job-related training to those looking for work.

The author seems to agree with the experts he interviewed for this article that much of this has been due to politics because it helps elected officials project tough image. One of the experts interviewed by the author for this article was Eric Lambert who is a professor of criminal justice at Wayne State University. Lambert drew attention to the fact that despite lengthy prison times, Michigan has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. The author also implies by pointing out to Pew’s report that Michigan should go the way of Illinois which has taken the opposite route and yet has succeeded in lowering the crime rate. Illinois reduced average prison time by about seven months to 1.7 years between 1990 and 2005 and saved almost $476 million in the process. The author also reminds us that many politicians are weary of tackling the issue anytime soon because the public also views severity of punishment as an effective means of deterring crime. The author also seems disappointed at the current trend of politicians going tough on criminals including those with non-violent offences but the author also realizes that without a change in public perceptions, it will be difficult to persuade politicians to change their course.

I agree with the author and the experts mentioned in the article that the current criminal justice system in Michigan is in a great need of reformation. But I also realize politicians often put their own interests in front of public interests, thus, one of the best solutions to reducing the financial burden on taxpayers may be to decriminalize drugs such as marijuana. The social costs marijuana imposes on the society are more similar to cigarettes than other harmful drugs such s heroin and marijuana users account for a significant proportion of nonviolent crimes in the nation. Not only this will lower the burden on Michigan’s criminal system but may also help the state create another valuable revenue stream in the form of tax receipts. In fact, some other states have already chosen this path including Vermont (Wing, 2013) and there is growing public support for decriminalization of marijuana. One another course of action that Michigan’s criminal justice system can pursue is to refer offenders to education and rehabilitation programs whenever possible except for the most violent crimes. This course of action may also be more effective in lowering the probability of return to life of crime than prison stints.


Campbell, K. (2013, April 26). Longer sentences fuel big budget for Michigan prisons. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from

Wing, N. (2013, June 6). Vermont Marijuana Decriminalization Signed Into Law, Reduces Penalties For Possession Up To An Ounce. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from


Understanding the Ethical Issues Involved in Organizational Behavioral Change

An Article Analysis Based on Organizational Case Information

The main purpose of this article is to focus on the key issues that concern the assumptions of ethical management especially involving human resources. Considering behavior as a key element in establishing a common business culture among members of an organization, this discussion shall be related to the actual case being handled by SOS Leadership Institute, the business in focus.


“The culture of safety: results of an organization-wide survey in 15 California Hospitals” Article Critique and Discussion

In the research report “The culture of safety: results of an organization-wide survey in 15 California Hospitals,” Singer et al discuss and review the results of a survey conducted at 15 different hospitals that was designed to measure the extent to which a “culture of safety” existed in each facility. According to the report, the nature of the survey covered a more extensive range of personnel than previous studies; respondents included senior management and hospital officials, physicians, nurses, and other employees.  The report indicated that a significant number of facilities demonstrated the need for making improvements in developing a culture of safety in their respective hospitals.

Computer Science

Agile Development Methodologies

Agile development methodologies (ADM) have been gaining popularity because it is increasingly becoming difficult to adopt static plan-driven methods due to constantly changing requirements of software projects as a result of both internal and external factors. ADM solves the dilemma by breaking software projects into components each of which can exists on its own and is fully compatible with the other components. As a result, any change or new requirement doesn’t disrupt the whole project or requires starting from the scratch. Each component or reiteration is not only shorter in length but also carries lower complexity and risk levels. There are four types of agile development methods which are extreme programming, crystal methods, scrum, and feature-driven development.


Baseline Characteristics of European and Non-European


The article discusses the impact of Adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Europe. In this article, the authors analyze the diagnosis of ADHD in adults, focusing on characteristics of this disease in Non-European  and Europeans adults. The primary focus is the baseline characteristics of European and non-European adult patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), while participating in a placebo-controlled, randomized treatment study.  This study found that there is no significant difference between European or Non-European with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and they have similar characteristics and demographics. The study changes the perception about (ADHD), which most people are afraid of what they do not understand.  The study presented the common perception that a hyperactive child in the mall or a disruptive child in school is associated with ADHD. However, the study concluded ADHD is just as prevalent in adults.  The study indicated that in the European and Non-European adults spend most of the adulthood impaired because they have gone underdiagnosed in many European countries.  However, the primary contribution is the similarities in characteristics between the ADHD adults both European and Non-European. The article explained that European adults that are left untreated for ADHD often are perceived as troublemakers unable to cope with society or lazy. However, the article raised the awareness level that ADHD is a disease that impairs the individual’s neurological system. In many the European countries, professionals working in the adult mental health field may not know that ADHD frequently persists well into adulthood. The article discusses the impairments of ADHD adults that are misunderstood by the European public. The article indicated that adults with ADHD in Europe often go untreated for ADHD, causing the adult to experience lower educational and occupational achievements. The European adults will also have problems in their daily relationships with families and close friends.


Investment Article Reviews

The price/earnings ratio (P/E) tells us how much an investor in a particular company’s stock pays for each dollar of earning. In other words, the lower the P/E, the better the deal an investor gets and the studies indeed demonstrate that buying stock at lower P/E usually results in higher long-term returns. Even though P/E is usually calculated for earnings in the past, it can also be calculated on the basis of expected earnings in the future. Since a company is affected by factors external to it, the P/E ratio is also affected by external factors. P/E is usually higher when overall stock market is doing well and vice versa. It is also important to compare P/E of a company with that of the competition or the industry in which the company operates. But P/E has limitations and is not always a useful tool in choosing investment candidates. What I have read about value investors, higher P/E may be acceptable for companies with strong competitive position or who have a long-term track record such as some of the blue-chip companies. I also believe that P/E on the basis of future expected earnings should be used as infrequently as possible because humans tend to be poor predictors of future events.

Medicine and Health

Global Concerns Regarding Novel Influenza A (H7N9) Virus Infections

The scare over the possibility of having another medical dilemma has been increased in relation to the entrant of the news about the H7N9. The article written by Timothy Uyeki specifically gives a specific implication on how such scare has been detected and what current studies have already been implicated to make sure that the control over its spread is to be effective enough especially when it comes to manifesting a major public health resolution. Like that of the Avian Flu (AH1N1), the H7N9 is also sourced out from animals. Once the distribution of the virus becomes rampant, there is a scare that it might not be controllable anymore. Consistently, utilizing the research and journal of Gao as reference to the discussion, Uyeki tries to outline the different procedures taken into consideration to discover the different strands of the virus as well as its characteristics in relation to how its genome could be distributed in a rapid pace.


Finance Article Analysis

A recent article in Businessweek reports that treasuries are off to worst start since 2003 as the economy is expected to be recovering (Eddings and Austen). The article states the yield on benchmark 10-year notes have climbed 16 basis points or 0.16 percent. The rise in yield means the demand for the treasury notes has declined because the price and the yield of the bonds have an inverse relationship. The declining demand for treasury notes led to a decrease in their price which had the adverse effect of a rise in yield.


Article Review “When will people help in a crisis?”

The beginning of the article proposes the idea of the diffusion of responsibility among people when placed in positions where responsibility is needed. This was imprinted very deeply in the readers mind when the authors present the stories of Kitty Genovese, Andrew Mormille, and Eleanor Bradley.

These events are tragic, and the author calls them deeply disturbing. He cites that if one or two bystanders had ignored the obvious calls for help, this could be understood. It is the sheer amount of bystanders who did nothing that is concerning.

This is where the diffusion of responsibility comes into play. The author goes so far as to make the claim that the more people see the event, the less likely one individual is to assist.

The authors highlight the series of decisions the bystander has to make when they witness a crisis. First, they have to “notice” an event is happening. Second, they have to “interpret” the event as an actual emergency. Lastly, and obviously the most important, is the person has to feel a “personal responsibility” for grounds to intervene. Only when these three things fall into place does a person make the decision to intervene in a situation.

They then present the problems inherent with these three criteria. The authors cite American manners, namely the need to give privacy, as a reason for people being slow to notice an emergency. In addition, they provide the smoke study–empirical evidence that people only tend to move in groups. If everyone ignores the emergency, generally people either do not notice, or perceive that one exists at all.

This article proves that the behavior of people in a group is radically different than when acting individually.


Article Review “Understanding Daydreaming” by Eric Klinger

Article Review

The article by Eric Klinger “Understanding Daydreaming” is about where daydreams come from, their origin in the brain, and the impact and sophistication on the conscious and unconscious mind.

He presents how people in a dreaming state can be manipulated by conscious actions around them. He explains how repeating a man’s girlfriends name while he was sleeping in a condition he was uncomfortable, he described a dream where his girlfriend broke up with him, while he was still vaguely aware of the experiment that was going on around him. It seemed the dream centered around his anxiety of having the test conducted on him at all.

They found in another study that on average we daydream about half the time. These daydreams are broken into three different kinds: fanciful thoughts, spontaneous thoughts, or dissociative thoughts. These different kinds of daydreams seem unrelated at all.

Studies also found that humans can manipulate, and even steer their own prompted daydreams. This is very interesting when considering the connection of the conscious and unconscious mind, especially with reference to lucid dreaming.

At the end of the day, emotions truly lead the daydream of anyone. Anxieties, fears, wants, dreams, and other unconscious feelings can come to light in daydreams, and they are more likely to manifest themselves more vividly in times of happiness or of distress,

It also seems people find their own daydreams extremely private, which not only adds to the difficulty in their study, but also backs up the theory of extreme emotion while daydreaming. Emotions are the key to any daydream, and will continue to be studied as the conscious and unconscious mind.


They All Look Alike to Me by Doctor Roy S. Paulpass

‘They All Look Alike to Me’ by Doctor Roy S. Paulpass covered peoples perceptions and they way they remembered data. Paulpass was perplexed by interpersonal perception and how people respond to individuals in terms of groups rather than separate individuals. Dr. Paulpass spent the next two decades doing research and experiments trying to uncover what drove interpersonal perception.

Paulpass’s first question was how did it start. What fueled Paulpass’s fury was that his town, though substantially populated by black residents, the fire department and police department were completely filled with only white employees. Why? Paulpass used his students to test a number of experiments to try to discover a reason behind whether there was a “differential recognition for vs. other-race faces.” This research turned out to be less than satisfying for Paulpass, who then tried obtain a sample of study participants to nail down whether faces were more or less distinguishable depending on their race. Paulpass’s first study concluded that most people did in fact associate faces with races more often than not.

Paulpass then took what he already gathered and moved on to the next phase of his study, explaining his findings. After many experiments and help from his graduate students, Paulpass was inclusive in his findings on why humans tend to associate face and racial background.

Although Paulpass could not find a why, he continued to study the connection between people and interpersonal perception and continues to research how and why people do not perceive people’s faces as much as their races, making one wonder if we all do look alike.


Reducing Aggression and Conflict: The Incompatible Response Approach or Why People Who Feel Good Usually Won’t be Bad by Robert Baron

Article Review

The desire to know what contributes to human aggression is the primary focus of Robert Baron’s study. Utilizing the aggression machine, which was introduced and used by Arnold Buss in 1967, Baron intended to create his own aggression machine and try whether or not a person would choose aggression over calmness when presented with certain situations. In his study, it showed that there are different elements that affected the decision of those who used the aggression machine against the supposed ‘victims’ [the people who participated as victims were not really affected by the aggression machine, but they were there to at least make the participants who used the aggression machine to think that the shocks they were sending through the machine were real]. One of the primary elements observed by Baron to have affected the aggression of the person handling the machine is that of ‘perception and peer motivation’. This aspect imposes the ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ idealism. Relatively, as one proctor pushes the low button [which releases low shock], the participant[s] try the same. When the proctor pushes the high button, the participant[s] does the same approach. However, what was seemingly interesting in the results was with that of the fact that the participant[s] handling the machine were further motivated to push higher shock wave buttons the longer they stay in control. It seemed that as if the power over the other gave them a hype of being in the verge of authority hence utilizing that power against the other.

Political Science

Article Review–“Act of Congress…” Washington Post

Occasionally the dialogue between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch opens up, and the American system works the way it was intended, with slight variations. This is clearly illustrated by an article posted by The Washington Post on May 6th, 2013, that describe the efforts of Democratic Representative Barney Frank in imposing regulations on the US banking system following the burst of the housing market in 2008.