Preventative Responses to Criminal Organizations

Week 6: Preventative Responses to Criminal Organizations

Imagine that you are a member of an organized crime group in a major U.S. city. You are facing resistance from law enforcement in the city, so you decide to establish a new operation in a surrounding suburb. You figure you may not experience the same level of scrutiny there. What might prevent you from infiltrating that community, beginning to recruit members, and “setting up shop”?

Combating criminal organizations is not just a reactive endeavor; it is also a proactive one. In other words, the goal is not only to fight existing crime groups but to deter new ones from taking hold. Criminal justice professionals must work together with community members and other individuals such as social workers to address root causes—racial and socioeconomic disparities, issues in adolescent psychological and social development, and more.

This week, you turn your attention to preventative strategies that can be employed to protect communities against gangs and criminal organizations.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Recommend preventative strategies to combat criminal organizations
  • Apply learning to personal experiences with gangs and organized crime groups 

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Howell, J. C., & Griffiths, E. (2018). Gangs in America’s communities (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

  • Chapter 9, “What Works: Prevention” (pp. 253–280)

Community Tool Box. (n.d.). Section 2. Writing letters to the editor. Retrieved May 4, 2019, from

Dong, B., & Krohn, M. D. (2016). Escape from violence: What reduces the enduring consequences of adolescent gang affiliation? Journal of Criminal Justice, 47, 41–50. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2016.07.002 

Jennings-Bey, T., Lane, S. D., Rubinstein, R. A., Bergen-Cico, D., Haygood-El, A., Hudson, H., . . . Fowler, F. L. (2015). The trauma response team: A community intervention for gang violence. Journal of Urban Health, 92(5), 947–954. doi:10.1007/s11524-015-9978-8 

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2014, April). Gang prevention. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Justice. (2013). Changing course: Preventing gang membership. Retrieved from


Discussion: Preventing the Development and Growth of Criminal Organizations

Criminal organizations destroy lives and wreak havoc on communities. They are also increasingly difficult to combat, particularly when they extend beyond neighborhoods to regional, national, international, and transnational territories. Therefore, strong efforts to prevent the development and growth of these organizations is crucial. The most effective preventative strategies address psychological and/or sociological root causes of criminal organizations and include the cooperation of multiple law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, neighborhoods, and even businesses. Some community-based strategies are designed to quell the development of gangs and organized crime groups from the inside out by preventing adolescents from joining these criminal groups. Others seek to open lines of communication between community members and law enforcement so that community members feel comfortable providing information to the police.

In this Discussion, you consider strategies to prevent the creation, development, and growth of criminal organizations in your community. 





By Day 3

Post a letter to the editor of your local newspaper that addresses the following:


  • Explain what law enforcement is or should be doing to prevent new criminal organizations from entering your community.
  • Recommend an effective strategy to prevent the development and growth of criminal organizations in your community.
  • If your community has not been exposed to criminal organizations, explain what you would do to prevent them from taking root.
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