california street terrorism enforcement and prevention act
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A POLICY ANAYSIS OF THE PENAL CODE SECTION 186.20-186.33: CALIFORNIA STREET TERRORISM ENFORCEMENT AND PREVENTION ACT Mariya Libman California State University, Long Beach May 2012
Introduction Policy’s Objectives • Created a substantive crime for active participation in any criminal street gang • Imposed greater punishment for crimes committed “for the benefit” of a criminal gang • Registration with the local law enforcement officer
The underling goal of the policy was to eliminate gangrelated crimes by increasing the punishment for recidivism.
Social Work Resonance of the Policy The issue of gang enhancement has multicultural implications, it is a problem that affects the general population. The California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (CSTEP) of 1988, was designed to keep the community safe and free of organized crime. Social workers are trained to be culturally competent within their work. Social workers will provide gang members and their families the appropriate services to meet the unique needs of the gang affiliated population. According to the NASW (2011) code of ethics Social workers work within school settings. With the collaboration of teachers, principals, and parents social workers facilitate and assist the personal and families to ensure that the appropriate support services are provided to students who are at-risk for gang affiliation.
Literature The Legislation believed that California was in a state of crisis due to organized criminal gangs and, therefore, passed the policy, California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (CSTEP) of 1988. Before enacting
the policy, the policymakers did a study from which they concluded that members of gangs threaten, terrorize, and commit crimes against peaceful citizens. Another study found that there were almost 600 street gangs that
was currently active in California, as well as the number of gang-related murders had been increasing (CSTEP, 1988, § 186.20). Further, the same study found that in Los Angeles County there were 328 gang-related murders
in 1986 (CSTEP, 1988, § 186.20).
Methods: The Policy Frame Work The purpose of this study was to analyze the positive and negative results of the enactment of California Penal Code 186.20. The analytic structure of this study was derived from David Gil’s (1992) social policy analysis framework. This study was a qualitative analysis of secondary sources that thoroughly explored this policy and its intended and actual impact on the issue of gang enhancement laws. Gil is a respected author and professor in the field of social work who created the framework for policy analysis used in this study. This framework is designed to explore issues related to the creation of a policy, as well as its effects. Gil stated that a policy analysis, “ . . . is to discern the chain of substantive effects resulting, or expected to result, from the implantation of a given social policy, including intended, and unintended, long and short term effects” (Gil, 1992, pp. 74-75).
Methods: Sources used to address issues identified in the framework The purpose of this study was to analyze the positive and negative results of the enactment of California Penal Code 186.20. This study was a qualitative analysis of secondary sources such as government documents, CSULB library,
government documents, and peer reviewed journals that thoroughly explored this policy and its intended and actual impact on the issue of gang enhancement laws.
Grant Proposal The overt objectives of CSTEP are clearly stated as the suppression of criminal activity caused by street gangs. The Legislation focused on eliminating the pattern of criminal gang activity to freeze out street violence. The legislature concluded that increasing the punishment for such acts will help suppress similar future actions (California 186.20, 2011). The objectives were designed based on the information that was gathered by the legislature.
Grant Proposal The covert objective of this bill was the vague word choice which allowed every court room to run independently. The pattern of organized crime has not been uncovered with this policy. Neither did the legislation understand the nature of street gangs, which cause terror to citizens living amongst gangs. Policy makers did not find an effective ways to punish and prevent future criminal terror perpetrated by street gangs.
Summary of the Strengths and Challenges of the Policy The strengths of CSTEP is the legislature’s acknowledgement of the problem and desire to solve it. The policy is an important step to help communities gain back control, which is currently in the hands of organized criminal gangs. CSTEP is neither a perfect neither a complete solution to the problem of organized crime. The policy needs to modify its focus on establishing preventive and after care programs within the community as well as improving the quality and quantity of therapeutic work which is provided to those incarcerated. Social workers need to cater to both former and active gang members, incarcerated individuals, gang member families, and the community by providing these people with necessary information regarding services and resources. Practitioners should respect the individuality of their clients and allow them to make their own decisions (Yoshino,2008). A social worker needs to uphold the value of respecting the worth and dignity of each individual who is affected by the gang culture. Often individuals confuse cultural pride with gang pride. Through learning and cultural programs in schools, community centers, local parks, and recreational centers individuals can gain knowledge about their community, their culture, and history.
References California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (CSTEP) of 1988, Cal. Pen. Code §§ 186.20186.33 (1988). Gil, D. (1992). Unraveling social policy: Theory, analysis and political action towards social equality. Rochester, VA: Shenkman Books. National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2011). Code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp Yoshino, E. (2008). California’s criminal gang enhancements: Lesions from interviews with practitioners. Retrieved from http://lawweb.usc.edu/why/students/orgs/rlsj /assets/docs/issue_18/Yoshino_(MACRO2).pdf