RICO: ANALYZING THE USE OF FEDERAL LAW TO COMBAT LOCAL GANG PROBLEMS
Ryerson, Gene W.
Peters, Lynda A.
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Gangs are the main contributor to violent crime in the United States. In an attempt to combat such violent crime, the federal government has begun prosecuting street-level gangs with the federal racketeering (RICO) statutes. Although these statutes were developed to address more traditional white-collar crime, the criminalizing of ongoing racketeering activity in a criminal enterprise has successfully been used to prosecute street-level gangs. This thesis provides a review of the scholarly literature on the topic, most of which is biased and averse to the RICO statutes’ use in this context. This thesis also evaluates criticisms and concerns on the topic. Federal laws and procedures were analyzed during a comparative analysis of different court systems, which revealed a distinct advantage for federal courts in the investigation and prosecution of violent street gangs. Additionally, the use of the federal racketeering statutes by three different jurisdictions—New York, New York; Detroit, Michigan; and Montebello, California—was researched and analyzed. The research found that use of the RICO statutes facilitated law enforcement initiatives that reduced violent crime and homicides in all three jurisdictions.
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