Final Report

Milwaukee Drug Posse and Homegirl Studies

 

Methodology

 

The Drug Posse and Homegirl studies were the result of collaboration between academics and former gang members.  Joan Moore and John Hagedorn were co-Princial Investigators and were joined at various times by Ed Smith, Manuel Chavez, Mary Devitt, Rocio Medico, and Greg Giglio. Former gang members who worked on the studies included Clint Holloway, Lavell Cox, Jerome Wonders, Angel      , Jorge Silva, Angelo Vega, Rita Lewis, Amelia Holloway, Frances Turloch,  and Dora Rodrigeuz. These men and women came from eleven different Milwaukee gangs. Many other gang members and former gang members assisted in various aspects of the study.

 

The process for both the Drug Posse and Homegril studies were similar. both studies began with collaboration by former gang members with Hagedorn and Moore in the writin of the proposal, specifically in developing research obejctives. The collaboration continued with a four month process of developing the instrument for the interviews. Staff were trained in interview techniques with the assistance of consultants Claire Sterk, Ansley Hamid, Diego Vigil, and Eloise Dunlap. Staff and Hagedorn then interviewed gang members who were listed on rosters which had been originally developed for Hagedorns’ first study, People & Folks [6]. Hagedorn interviewed 23 of the males and 3 of the females. all other inteviews were conducted by former gang members.

 

Gang members assited in the entry of data from the interviews into SPSS, a quantitaitive software program. They also participated in the analysis of data by critiquing each paper or article as it was written.  They also participated in formulating categories and interpreting data in Folioviews, a qualitative software program. Staff also presented material from the study at various professional meetings and assisted in the formulation of this report.

 

The Drug Posse Study

 

The interpretations presented here draw on observation and exten­sive field work over a number of years, specifically from two funded interview studies, in 1987 and in 1992.  During the early 1980s, Hagedorn directed the first gang diversion program in the city, and became ac­quaint­ed with many leaders and other founders of Milwaukee's gangs.  He has maintained a privi­leged rela­tion­ship with many of them during subsequent years.

 

In the earlier study [6], forty-seven gang members were interviewed from nine­teen Milwaukee male and female gangs. These "founders" were those core gang mem­bers who were present when their gangs took names.  Founders are likely to be represen­tative of "hard core" gang members, and not of peripheral members or "wannabes." As time has passed, the exploits of the gang founders have been handed down and they have been looked up to by younger Milwaukee gang mem­bers as street "role models."   Our research design does not enable us to conclude how representative our sample is of succeeding groups of adult gang members.

 

As part of the Drug Posse study, we conducted lengthy audio taped interviews with 101 founding members of 18 gangs in the city.   Ninety were male and eleven female.  Sixty percent were African American, thirty-seven percent Latino, and three percent white.  Their median age was 26 years, with 75% between 23 and 30 years old.  Twenty three respondents had also been interviewed in the earlier 1987 study and 78 were interviewed for the first time. Members from two gangs interviewed in the earlier study could not be located. Respon­dents were paid $50. A Certificate of Confidentiality was issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 

The interview picks up the lives of the founding members since 1987, when the original study was done, and has them recount their careers in the drug busi­ness, their pursuit of conventional employment, and reflect on their personal lives.  The respondents were also asked to describe the current status of their fellow gang members.  In the 1987 study, we collected rosters of all mem­bers of each of the gangs whose founders we inter­viewed.  In the current study, we asked each respondent to double check the roster of his or her gang to make sure it was accu­rate.  In both stud­ies, we asked respon­dents to tell us if the other members were still alive, had graduated from high school, were currently locked up, and whether they were working.  In the 1992 study, we also asked whether each of the founding members was selling or using dope (in our data "dope" means cocaine), had some other hustle, was on the run, and other questions.

 

To better understand variation between and within the gangs, we inter­viewed nearly the entire rosters of three gangs and about half (64 of 152) of the original founding members from eight male gangs in three different types of neighborhoods. From each of these gangs we interviewed some who were still involved with both the gang and the dope game and some who were no longer involved. This paper reports on data on all of the 90 males we interviewed and on their accounts of the present circumstances of 236 founders of 14 male gangs.  The interviews in this most recent study were conducted in late 1992 and early 1993.

 

 

The Homegirl Study

 

For this study, 73 women,  core members present when their gangs took names,  were interviewed in 1995 by former female gang members on our staff, using an interview schedule consisting of over 500 questions, and 12 information grids. Information was also collected on an additional 176 women who were identified as having been members of the eight gangs to which the interviewed members had belonged.   Interviews generally lasted from one and a half to four hours,  were conducted face-to-face, generally in the respondent's home, and were audio-taped and transcribed.  Respondents were paid $50,  and a finder's fee of $50 was paid to those who identified eligible others willing to be interviewed. A Certificate of Confidentiality was obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 

To better understand variation between and within the gangs, we inter­viewed nearly the entire rosters of two female gangs and sampled from rosters made up of the original founding members from six other female  gangs in three different types of neighborhoods.  Only five (7%) of the women said that they considered themselves still members of their gang.  Founders are likely to be represen­tative of "hard core" gang members, and not of peripheral members or "wannabes."

 

Twenty-five percent of the women interviewed were African American,

and 75% Latina.  Among the Latinas, 19 (35.2% ) were Mexican; 33 (61.1%)

were Puerto Rican; and two others (3.7%) were mixed.  Their median age

was 28 years, with 80% between 25 and 29 years old.  The interview had the women recount their gang experiences in the early and mid 1980s and reflect on their personal lives. Extensive detail was elicited concerning the women's experiences of violence, drugs and drug-dealing in and outside of the gang,  family of origin and adult family.  The women were also asked about current employment and income, future goals, and attitudes related to gender and gang life.

 

Milwaukee female gangs were not made up exclusively  of extremely poor underclass women.  Twenty-six (36.1%) of the women said their family had "never" had a really rough time with the basics of food, housing and clothes when they were growing up; twenty-six (36.1%) answered in the middle, indicating some of the time, and only nine (12.5%) said "all the time."   The mean response to this item was 3.49, on a scale of 1 (all the time) to 5 (never).   Twenty-six (36.1%) of the women said that the family they grew up with had at some time owned their own home. 

 

Still most female gang members experienced considerable trouble growing up.  Thirty-eight (52.8%) of the women had either run away, or been kicked out of the house at some point in their youth.  Of these, 19 (26.3%) had run away but had not been kicked out and 4 (5.5%) had been kicked out, but had not run away.  Fifty-one (70.8%) of  the women interviewed had not completed high school at the time of our interview

 

Of the twenty-one who had finished high school, 6 (8.3%) said they had some further schooling.    Sixteen (22.2 %) of the women were married; 2 (2.7 %) were divorced;   fifty two (72.2 %) had never been married and 23 (31.9 %) said they had a steady man.   Sixty-two (86.1%) of the women had kids, with the number of children ranging from 1 to 8 (mean 2.52).  The ages of these gang women's children ranged from infant to 29 years.  One quarter of the women  had children two or younger at the time of the interview.  Three-quarters had children 6 years of age or younger.  These women became mothers  at ages ranging from 13 to 27.  One quarter had had their first baby by  age 17;  half by age 19.5; three-quarters by age 22.

 

The Three Neighborhoods Study

 

This study focussed on three very poor gang neighbor­hoods, with neigh­borhood bound­aries defined by gang members.  Each of these neighborhoods fits Wacquant and Wilson's extreme povety "ghetto" category, with poverty rates exceeding 40 per cent.   One of these ("Hustle­town") is in the heart of the inner city, and one ("Posse Park") is closer to downtown and is being gentrified.  The third ("La Parcela") is mixed, predomi­nant­ly Latino, and is also close to down­town. 

 

In all three neighbor­hoods, gang members dealt drugs, but there were also non-gang drug-dealing organiza­tions.  Hustle­town's original gang had largely dissolved by the time of this study, although many of its members were dealing drugs individually.  A third of its members had left the neighborhood, but a junior gang had formed, keeping the gang name alive.  Posse Park was being gentrified as we studied it, and half of the gang members had moved out of the neigh­borhood.  Many of the gang members had formed small drug selling businesses.   No junior group had formed.  The major gangs in La Parcela had split, but formal junior gangs had been orga­nized in each of the splinter gangs, and were under the control of older members. More than two thirds of the mature gang members were still living in the neighborhood and most were still involved with the gang (for details see [3].

 

In the fall of 1993, study staff and gang members inti­mately familiar with the drug trade went block by block to count the number of places where drugs were being sold.  We found between 15 and 30 drug houses, several bars, and several curbside markets in each neighborhood.   In all three, many resi­dents worried about drug sales, with 54 percent naming "drugs" as one of the three worst things about the neigh­borhood, and almost two-thirds (63 percent) saying that they knew that drugs were being sold in their neigh­borhoods.  More than half of the respon­dents (58 percent), in each neighborhood, however, believed that only a few or none of the neigh­borhood residents them­selves used drugs.

 

On the other hand, the neigh­borhoods differed signifi­cantly in the extent to which residents consid­ered gangs to be a serious problem.  In La Parcela 76 percent named gangs as one of the three most serious problems, but in Hustle­town, the inner-city African American neighborhood, only 2 percent did so.  In Posse Park, the near-downtown one, it was 26 percent.  This disparity reflects stronger gang traditions among Latinos and a corresponding higher level of gang-related violence. It also reflects vagaries in gang drug marketing.

 

Finally, we solicited resident opinions on gang and drug use in the thre neighborhoods. We probability-sampled 50 residents from randomly drawn addresses in each neighborhood, for a total of 150 respondents.  Interviewers were residents from adjacent communities who were trained in interviewing techniques. Respondents ranged in age, with a median age of 38, and standard deviation of 16 years.  They were heavily female, and, in the two African American neighbor­hoods, were largely unmar­ried. (In La Parcela 58% were married, com­pared with 21% in the two African Ameri­can neighbor­hoods). Like respondents in Wacquant and Wilson's "ghetto" areas, only slightly more than a third of the respon­dents were working (36.2%), though in a total of 42 percent of the households either the husband or the wife was at work. In slightly less than half of the house­holds at least one member was receiv­ing AFDC pay­ments. Unlike respon­dents from both "low-income" and "ghetto" areas in Chicago (Wacquant and Wilson: 33), religios­ity was relatively high: more than two-thirds of Milwau­kee respondents attend­ed church services regularly.

 

Findings

 

 

1. A lack of good jobs in Milwaukee was related to male gang members selling drugs.  While most of the men stayed involved with their gang as adults, nearly all the women left the gang before their twenties.

 

What happened to gang members as the 1990s began?  Male and female gang membs had quit differnt experiences.  Our rosters of the 228 founding members of 14 male gangs shows the avid participation of gang men in drug selling.  Since the 1988 publication of People & Folks, almost three quarters of the gang men were reported as having been involved with the sale of cocaine.  Of the African American men, most reduced their gang involvement and replaced it with drug selling. A majority of Latinos, on the other hand, actually stepped up their gang involvement as adults, while also selling drugs. Nearly all whites stopped their gang involvement, but most had sold drugs.  Note that while white male gang members used cocaine at roughly the same levels as minority gang members, more than two thirds were working legitimate jobs, while only about a quarter of African Americans and Latinos held such jobs.  Licit jobs hadn't disappeared for these working class whites. Almost all told us they found jobs by utilizing relatives to get them into jobs in remaining area factories.


Table 1

 

What Happened to the Guys in the Gang?

228 founding gang members of 14 male gangs.

 

 

African-Am.

White

Latino

Row Totals

SIG

WORK STATUS

 

 

 

 

.0001

Working

23.9%      (26)

68.8%      (22)

27.6%      (24)

31.6%      (72)

 

“Hustling”

55.5%      (60)

21.9%        (7)

62.1%      (54)

53.1%    (121)

 

Other #

21.1%      (23)

9.4%          (3)

10.3%        (9)

15.4%      (35)

 

EDUCATION

 

 

 

 

ns

Graduate  or

GED

38.3%      (31)

28%           (7)

31.1%      (23)

33.9%      (61)

 

Not Graduate

61.7%      (50)

72%         (18)

68.9%       (51)

66.1%    (119)

 

DECEASED

6.4%          (7)

6.3%          (2)

5.7%          (5)

6.1%         (14)

ns

STILL  LIVE

IN HOOD

 

 

 

 

.01

Yes

50.6%      (45)

41.4%      (12)

68.1%      (47)

55.6%    (104)

 

No   ##

49.4%      (44)

58.6%      (17)

31.9%      (22)

44.4%      (83)

 

BEEN TO  JAIL

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

67.0%      (73)

34.5%      (11)

  69,0%    (60)

63.2%    (144)

.0001

No

13.8%      (15)

46.9%      (15)

 18.4%     (16)

20.2%      (46)

 

Unknown

19.3%      (21)

18.8%        (6)

12.6%      (11)

16.7%      (38)

 

GANG

INVOLVEMENT

 

 

 

 

 

Some as adult

69.6%      (71)

3.1%          (1)

80.5%      (66)

64.5%    (138)

.0001

Same or more

than as teen

33.0%      (36)

3.1%          (1)

54.0%      (47)

36.9%      (84)

 

EVER SOLD

COCAINE

 

 

 

 

.001

Ever sold

69.7%      (76)

56.2%      (18)

81.6%      (71)

72.4%   (165)

 

Never sold

5.5%         (6)

28.1%      (12)

4. 6%         (4)

8.3%        (19)

 

Unknown or

deceased

24.7%      (27)

15.7%     (12)

13.7%      (12)

19.3%     (44)

 

COCAINE

USE ###

 

 

 

 

ns

Ever used

39.4%      (43)

53.1%      (17)

55.2%    ( 48)

47.8%    (108)

 

Never used

24.8%      (27)

21.9%        (7)

13.8%     (12)

20.2%      (46)

 

Used Daily

17.4%      (19)

15.6%        (5)

18.4%      (16)

17.5%      (40)

 

Column Totals

109

32

87

N= 228

 

#  in school,  unknown,  on welfare, or deceased.  ## does not include locked up and deceased   ###  does not include locked up, deceased, and unknown. Eight AfricanAmericna gang members are not included due to missing information.

 

The situation was very different for the female gang members we studied.  Unlike the men,  nearly all the women left the gang by the time they turned twenty. In Milwaukee, there is no such thing as an adult female gang and there were few adult female gang members.  While drug selling involves women as well as men, most women who did sell drugs were involved with men's drug selling operations, not their own.  While almost all Latinas as well as African American women had left the gang by the end of their teenage years, a quarter  (26.4%) of Latinas still lived in the old neighbor­hood, compared to less than ten percent (8.3%) of African Americans. For the women, as for the men, staying in the old neighborhood increased the risk of heavy drug use. The female gang itself has remained primarily an adolescent experience.

 

 The female ex-gang members we interviewed had high hopes for their lives.  While male gang members gave general optimistic answers to our question about what they expect to be doing in five years — like working a full-time job, or owning an undefined business — female ex-gang members gave very specific responses. More than half (57.6%) had professional or para-professional career goals, most of them in traditionally female professions, like nursing, nurses aid, or teaching,  but quite a few had non-gendered career choices.  Another ten per cent mentioned family-related goals, and ten percent mentioned both family and career goals.  Many saw the gang experience as having severely harmed their futures, like this woman:

 

Q: All in all, looking back, do you think the gang was more of a positive experience for you or more of a negative experience?

 

A: Negative.   Because I think I would have gone on to college had I not been in a gang.  My life would have been different, even now . 

 

The lofty plans of ex-gang women contrasted with a more sober reality, consistent with Joe & Chesney-Lind's (1995, 413) view that gang girls' "future aspirations are both gendered and unrealistic." Half of our sample were on AFDC and nearly three quarters had not completed high school.  About a third reported that they had wanted to go to college when they were teenagers, but less than a fifth had any vocational or post-high school training.

  

While women may have been as carefree and aggressive as the boys while teen­agers, their behavior changed as they became mothers.  Most women consider­ed the needs of their family far more than did the men. Some women, however, became depressed with family responsibilities, which they often faced alone, and lapsed into cocaine use. Nearly a quarter of the females were using at age 19, after they had left the gang.  Half of the women who had children admitted to some cocaine use as mothers. Women who were more traditional, particularly Puerto Ricans, tended to be users of cocaine as adults.  The frustration of high expec­tations of career goals may also contribute to adult strain and drug use. Those gang women who did use cocaine, as well as gang men,  experienced a sharp rise in cocaine use in adulthood.

 

Nearly all the women we interviewed (88.7%) were mothers, with about half either married (5.6%) or had plans to marry (38.9%) the man they were with.  More than half had been teen mothers. How to care for their children was a central question for these women,  and many had repeated prob­lems with the irresponsible behavior of men.  Ten percent were uncertain about whether they would marry their partner and a sixth (16.7%) had no plans to marry the man they were with.  More than a quarter (27.8%) had no steady man at the present time.  Some, but not most of the women,  were seri­ously harmed by the gang experience.  A small number were sexually exploited by gang men.  Those who viewed their gang experi­ence negatively were significantly less likely to have ever held a good job.

 

This not-so-rosy picture is underscored when we look at what hap­pened to not only our respondents, but all the girls who were found on our rosters of eight female gangs.   Since most of the women were young mothers and low-income, its not surprising that most (58.4%) were supported by AFDC and about a quarter (28.6%) were working. Two thirds (68.6%) did not graduate from high school. Nearly half  (42%) had done some time in jail. Half had used cocaine to some degree.  Almost all (95.4%) were reported as no longer being involved with the gang, and a large majority (82.2%) had moved out of the old neighborhood.

 

Table 2

 

What Happened to Female Gang Members?

176 Founding Gang members

from five African American and Four Latina Gangs*

 

 

African Americans

N= 84

Latinas

 

N= 92

Significance

Working

36.3%

20.3%

 p< .0001

On AFDC

43.8%

74.3%

 p< .0001

No longer in Gang

98.8%

92.3% 

N.S.

Completed High School

46.6%

21.9%

 p< .0001

Completed less than 10th Grade

13.3%

35.6%

 p< .0001

Ever Used Cocaine

12.7%

69.5%

p<.0001

Used Cocaine Daily

8.5%

45.8%

p<.0001

Still Lived in Gang Neighborhood

8.3%

26.4%

p< .001

Been to Jail

44.0%

40.2%

N.S

* There were no neighborhood-based white female gangs in Milwaukee when we did our interviews.

 

Latinas may have been more disadvantaged by their gang experience than African American women.  Latinas were significantly more likely to be on AFDC, to have completed less education, and were more likely to still be living in their old neighborhood.  While our data are not conclusive, it appears that those Latinas who were more traditional in their attitudes toward men and their role as mothers were the most disadvantaged by the gang experience (16].

 

Male gang members appear to be working more today than five years ago, but formal labor market participation has remained quite low.

 

Table 3

1992 Status of Male Gang Founders

236 founding members of 14 male gangs

 

Predominant Activity/ Status

African American

White

Latino

Total

Work: part time or full time

22.2%

 

68.8%

27.6%

30.5%

Hustling: nearly all selling cocaine

50.4

15.4

56.3

47.9

Deceased

7.7

6.3

5.7

6.8

Unknown Whereabouts

19.7

9.4

10.3

14.8

Total

N=100%

N=117

 

N=32

 

N=87

 

N=236

 

Column percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.

 

These low levels of labor market participation apply to more than gang mem­bers.  A recent Milwaukee study revealed that in 1990, 51% of jobs held by all  African Ameri­can males aged 20 to 24, slightly younger than our study population,  lasted less than six weeks.  Average annual  incomes in retail trade, where most held jobs, was $2,023; for jobs in service $1,697, and in education $3,084 (Rose et al.,  1992). African American young adults as a whole (and probably for non-gang Latinos) were clearly not working regular­ly and not earning a living wage.

 

 Selling cocaine seems to have filled the employment void.  In 1987, only a few gang members dealt drugs, mainly marijua­na.  Within African American gangs, at least, selling cocaine was not preva­lent. By 1992, cocaine had become a major factor in Milwaukee's informal economy, evolving into widespread curbside sales and numerous drug houses (cf. Hamid,  1992).  Of the 236 fellow gang founders, 72% were reported to have sold cocaine at some time in  the last five years.

 

But that involvement has not been a steady one. We collected detailed data on the length of involvement in the drug economy and the amount of money made by those we interviewed.  We asked our respon­dents to indicate how they support­ed themselves in each month of the last three years. We then asked how much money they made in both legal and illegal employment.  For most, selling cocaine was an on-again,  off-again proposition.  About half (35) of those who had sold cocaine, sold no more than 12 months out of the last 36 while only 12% (9) sold in more than 24 of the last 36 months. Latinos sold for slightly longer periods of time than African Americans, 17.7 months to 13.1 months (p= .07).    

 

When gang members did sell dope, they made widely varying amounts of money. About a third of those who sold reported they made no more than they would have if they worked for minimum wage.  Another third made the equival­ent of between $13 and $25 hour.  Only three of the 73 sellers ever made "crazy mon­ey," or more than $10,000 per month at any time during their drug selling careers. Mean monthly income from drug sales was approximately $2400, or about $15 per hour for full time work. By contrast, mean monthly income for legal work was only $677, with Latinos making more than African Americans ($797/month to $604/ month, p= .08: table not shown). The maximum  amount of money any gang mem­ber made monthly from legal income was $2400, the mean  for gang drug sales.

 

Table 4

 

Mean Monthly Income from Drug Dealing: 1989-1991

87 African American and Latino Respondents

 

Average Monthly Income From Drug Sales

African American

Latino *

Totals

Never sold

 

15.8%

23.3%

18.4%

Less than $1000 monthly

(Equivalent to less than

$6/hour)

28.1

30.0

28.7

Between $1000 and $2000

 monthly

(Equivalent to $7-$12/hour)

28.1

6.7

20.7

Between $2000 and $4000 monthly

(Equivalent to $13-$25/hour)

25.3

33.3

28.7

More than $10,000

monthly

 

1.8

6.7

3.4

Total N=100%

57

30

87

 

*Three whites were excluded from the analysis.  One white founder never sold and the other two made less than $2000 monthly. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding

 

 

              Qualitative data from our interviews support the view that for some the dope game indeed lives up to its stereotype.  One dealer credibly reported income from his three drug houses at about $50,000 per month for several months in 1989. Another told about how he felt making all that money:

 

Q: Did you ever make crazy money? 

 

R#220: Yeah, …one time my hands had turned green from all that money, I couldn't wash it off, man, I loved it.  Oh man, look at this…just holding all that money in my hand turned my hands green from just counting all that money.  Sometimes I'd sit back and just count it maybe three, four times, for the hell of it. 

 

 

But even for big dealers, that money didn't last. While there were some "play­ers" who were "rolling" for several years, most took a fall within a year or so.  As with Padilla's Diamonds, for most gang members, disap­point­ments with the drug trade seemed to more than match its promise.  Prison and jail time interrupted their lives on a regular basis. More than three-quarters of all gang founders on our rosters had spent some time in jail in the past five years as did two-thirds of our respondents.  Still, our respondents worked a mean of14.5 months out of the last 36 months in legit jobs, 14.5 months selling dope, and spent the remaining 7 months in jail. Twenty-five percent of our respondents worked legit jobs at least 24 out of the last 36 months.

 

 But a curious anomaly confronted us as we analyzed our data on work. As might be expected, nine out of ten of those who were not working at the time of our interview had sold dope in the past three years. But we also found that three-quarters of those who were  working in 1992 had also sold dope within the previous five years.

 

Table 5

 

1992 Work Status by Involvement in Cocaine Sales

220 surviving founding members of 14 male gangs

 

Sold Dope Last Five years?

Working Now

Not Working Now*

Work Status Unknown

Totals

Have Sold Dope

 

75%

91.2%

40.0%

77.7%

Have Not Sold Dope

16.7

5.3

2.9

8.6

Unknown

 

8.3

3.5

57.1

13.6

Totals N=100%

 

N=72

  N=113

N=35

N=220

 

*Includes selling cocaine, being "on the run," locked up, and being involved with other street hustles.

 

 

 

These data lend themselves to alternative explanations. It may be that three-quarters of those working had sold cocaine in the past, but stopped and were getting their lives together.  A second interpretation was that full time employment is nothing more than an income supplement or "front" for continuation in the drug game. Some gang founders indeed fit into one or the other of these categories.

 

A third interpretation evolved as we received reports from our staff and respon­dents about the current status of their fellow gang members.  A few days after an interview with  "Roger,"  one of our staff would report that "Roger" was no longer working for a temporary agency as he had reported, but was "back in the dope game." The next week "Roger" might call us from jail and a week or so later we'd find out he was out on bail, his "lady" had put pressure on him and now he was working full time with his brother-in-law doing construction.  Similar reports flooded our offices about dozens of people on our rosters. Working and selling drugs were both part of the very difficult, topsy-turvy lives led by our respon­dents.  Elliot Liebow's (1967: 219) colorful description of the confused lives on Tally's corner fits our data as well: "Traffic is heavy in all directions."  

 

These vicissitudes became too much for us to keep track of, so we "froze" the current status of founders on our rosters at the time of the last and most reliable interview. While some of our founders seemed commit­ted to the dope business and a few  had "gone legit,"  most of those we were trying to track appeared to be on an economic merry-go-round,  with continual movement in and out of the secondary labor market. Despite average income from drug sales which far exceeded income from legal employment, most Milwaukee male gang members apparently kept trying to find licit work.

 

To help explain this fluctuation in and out of the formal labor market, we created a typology of adult gang members using constant comparisons (Strauss,  1987).  This categorization shares similarities with earlier typologies, but differs in that it intends to account for differential orientations of gang members in an era of decreased legitimate economic opportunities and increased, drug-related, illicit opportunities..   

 

Four ideal types on a continuum of conventional behaviors and values were developed:  (1) those few who had gone "legit,"  or matured out of the gang;  (2) "home­boys,"  who were a majority of both African-American and Latino adult gang members,  who alternately worked conventional jobs and took various roles in drug sales; (3) "dope fiends," who were addict­ed to cocaine and par­tic­i­pated in the dope business as a way to continue access to the drug; and (4) "new jacks"  who saw the dope game as a career.

 

Some gang members, we found, moved over time between categories, some had characteristics of more than one category, and others "straddled" the bound­aries (cf. Hannerz,  1969: 57).  Thus a few homeboys were in the process of becom­ing legit, many went in and out of cocaine addiction, and others "gave up" and adopt­ed a new jack orientation.  Some new jacks returned to conventional life, while others got long prison terms or became addicted to dope.  Our categories are not discrete, but our typology seemed to fit the population of gang members we were research­ing.  Our "member checks" (Lincoln and Guba, 1985: 314-316) of the constructs with gang members validated these catego­ries for male gang members [4]. 

 

 

2. Economic restructuring has meant a fundamental change in the nature of the male gang.

 

 

We believe the male gang has undergone a fundamental shift in this post-industrial era. The color of money has replaced gang colors as the underlying rationale for the behavior of adult gang members and the structure of their gangs. While not all gangs in other cities have embraced this ethic of hustling,  male gangs in Milwaukee, which are almost all involved with the sales of drugs, are quite different than the fighting or petty-criminal delinquent peer groups of past eras. For teenagers as well as their older brothers, the gang now is mainly a way to "make your money" [26].

 

We improvised means to ascertain the extent of drug dealing in our study neighborhoods.  In the fall of 1993, study staff and gang members from each neighborhood who were intimately familiar with the drug trade went block by block in smaller sections of each neighbor­hood to count the number of drug houses and places where drugs are sold, and determine whether each was gang affiliated.  Data gathered from this "dope house survey" may underestimate the actual extent of drug dealing, due to limits of our informants' knowledge.

 

Table 6

 

Table 3

"Dope House" Survey

 

Neighborhood

Blocks surveyed

Drug Houses

All Places where cocaine was sold

Percent Gang

Hustletown

30

16

23

61%

Posse Park

36

15

19

74%

La Parcela

50

30

43

49%

 

We stimate that there are at least twenty such neighbohroods in Milwaukee, in any given year,  employing more young African Aerican males than the once proud manufacturing sector of the economy. The profound changes brought about by econoic restructuring have resulted in the male gang adopting economic functions, and the prolonged participation in male gangs by young adults

.

Once again, things are different for women. Almost all female gang members left the gang  by the time they were adults. Their gangs remained adolescent gangs. There were no adult female gangs in Milwaukee, at least at the time of this study.

Female gangs however cannot be simplistically labeled male auxilliaries.

 

 

Table 7

 

Female Gang Structure by Ethnicity

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

AFRICAN AMERICANS

LATINAS

SIGNIF.

1. Who called the shots?

 

 

p< .05

Girls on their own                               

88.2%

46.2%

 

Both girls & guys                                 

 5.9%

15.4%

 

Guys                                                    

 5.9%   

23.1%

 

Other

 

15.4%*

 

2. Who decided who got in?

 

 

p< .05

Girls on their own                               

87.5%              

44.2%

 

Both girls & guys                                 

 

32.7%

 

Guys                                        

12.5%              

17.3%

 

Other

 

5.8%

 

3. Did the girls have meetings

on their own?

 

 

p<.01

Yes

77.8%              

31.5%

 

no

22.2%              

66.7%

 

No Response

 

1.9%

 

4. Did gang have leaders?

 

 

 N. S.

 

yes

66.7%              

53.8%

 

no

33.3%              

46.2%

 

5. How organized was

the gang?

 

 

N.S.

(p<.07)

Very Organized

16.7%              

3.8%

 

Organized

50.0%              

71.2%

 

Not Very Organized

16.7%              

21.2%

 

Not Organized At All

16.7%              

3.8%

 

 

 

 

Table 8

 

 More Gang Differences by Ethnicity

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

AFRICAN AMERICANS

LATINAS

SIGNIF.

1. The guys treated the girls

like possessions.

 

 

 

p<.001

true

29.4%              

87.0%

 

not true

70.6%              

13.0%

 

2 Did the women deal drugs

by themselves or were they a

part of the guy's operation?

 

 

N.S.

(p< .06)

by themselves

8.3%

1.9%

 

part of the guys operation

8.3%

42.3%

 

not deal, no response

83.3%

55.8%

 

3. Did you ever use cocaine on

a daily basis?

 

 

p<.01

yes

27.8%

66.7%

 

no

72.2%

33.3%

 

4. How often did you go to

school high when you were a teenager?

 

 

p<.05

never

38.9%

42.0%

 

once in a while

 

28.0%

 

at least once a week

22.2%

10.0%

 

almost every day

38.9%

20.0%

 

5. Was the gang  more positive

or negative?

 

 

p< .01

More Positive

3.3%                             5.7%

5.7%

 

Mixed

50.0%              

58.5%

 

More Negative

16.7%              

35.8%

 

6. Did you go with anyone in the gang?

 

 

N.S.

(p<.08)

yes

61.1%              

81.5%

 

no

38.9%              

18.5%

 

 

 

 

Before we look at variation between neighborhoods, we need to briefly sketch the back­ground for the growth in Milwaukee gang drug sales in the mid to late 1980s. Economic con­ditions  deteriorated in Milwaukee during that time.  Manufacturing jobs declined precipi­tously in the 1979-1983 recession and did not ever completely recover. During the 1980s, Milwaukee lost 19% of its manufacturing job base (McMahon et al. 1992). Thirty seven percent of the large firms who paid high wages and where many minorities had been hired (Trotter 1985) were shut down.  The Milwaukee area lost 42,000 manufacturing jobs while gaining 100,000 ser­vice jobs. The majority of all metropolitan jobs are now located in the suburbs, accelerating spa­tial mismatch of Milwaukee's "hyper-segregated" minority population with new jobs (Kasarda 1985).

These trends hit Milwaukee central city neighborhoods especially hard, with 1990 African American male unemployment rates exceeding 45% (Rose et al. 1992) compared to less than 3.7% of all area workers. As African American and other youth who founded Mil­wau­kee's gangs in the early 1980s reached adulthood, they found few good paying jobs (Hagedorn 1988). Most of the founders of Milwaukee gangs bobbed in and out of con­ventional employment and periodically sold cocaine as a means of survival (Hagedorn, 1994). But there were major differences between neighborhoods in the organizational form of gang cocaine sales as well as the rise and fall of a notorious citywide drug gang. We'll begin our examination of variation in gang drug organization by examining Milwaukee's infamous "Citywide Drug Gang."3

 

 

 

 

Table 1

            Neighborhood and Market Characteristics

                                   

Neighborhood

 

Ethnicty of neigh-borhood

Popula-tion

turn-over

Location of neigh-borhood

Ethnicity of customer

Per cent  custom-ers from neigh-borhood

Nature of

market

Self report gang organi-zation

Hustletown

 

98% Af-rican Amer-ican

relatively stable

inner city

100% Af-rican Amer-ican

100%

open to other gangs

not at all organized

Posse Park

 

98% African American

Latino and white nearby

unstable, gentri-fying

next to down-town

80% African American

 

20% white

30% to 80%

open to other gangs

fairly organized

La Parcela

 

70% Latino. white,

Asian and  African American

consider-able immi-gration

next to down-town

Latinos. for some sellers up to 90%

white

10%-90%

closed to other gangs

very organized

Citywide

Drug Gang

NA; sold city-wide

NA; sold city-wide

inner city

AA; 10% white

50%

take over local mar-kets from others

very organized


 

Table 2

Gang Organizational Characteristics

 

Organizational Type

 

 

Example of Gang

Ethnicity

Division of Labor

Central-ization

Relation of Drug Orga-nization to Gang

Junior groups

Same or more gang involve-ment as adults 1987-1992

Freelance

 

 

Hustletown

African

American

NA; gang has dissolved

NA; gang has dissolved;

gang in name only; free lance drug selling

junior groups independent of drug sellers

13% same or more gang in-volvement

Small business; Network

 

 

Posse Park

African American

dopeman is leader; other roles for local drug selling

single

posse or loose network;

gang is foundation for drug posse or network

no junior groups

27% same or more gang in-volvement

Overlapping gang and drug organization

 

 

 

 

La Parcela

Latino (mainly Puerto Rican)

specialized roles in both gang and drug selling; gang leader is often dopeman

decentraliz-ed sections in "turf" through-out neigh-borhood;

gang and drug organ-ization overlap; drug selling may be kinship based

junior groups part of gang and take roles in drug selling

57% same or more gang in-volvement

Drug Gang

 

 

 

City-Wide Drug Gang

African American

dopeman is leader; other roles in citywide drug distribution

centralized with many citywide locations;

gang a front for  dope game

junior groups unrelated to drug  business

NA. gang did not form until late 1980s


 

 

Neighborhood Survey

 

Characteristics

of respondents                    Neighborhood

                              

               Hustletown   Posse Park La Parcela   Total

Ethnicity:

African American............. 98.0%       96.0%       8.0%        67.3%

Latino.........................0           2.0        72.0        24.7

Anglo American.................2.0         2.0        20.0         8.0    

 

Percent of Respondents       

 who were working             32.7        40.0      36.0          36.2

          

Percent of households

   receiving AFDC..           40.0        48.8      50.0          46.2

 

Length of residence:

Less than 6 months............ 10.0%       8.2%    18.0%          12.1%

6 months to 1 year.............12.0        30.6     20.0          20.8

1 to 5 years...................22.0        24.5    36.7           26.2

More than 5 years..............56.0        36.7     30.0          40.9

 

Owns his/her own home..........32.7       14.3     32.0           26.4

Visits neighbors...............54.2       63.2     64.7           60.7

Is a member of some

  organization........        24.5        24.3     13.0           17.4

 

Feels neighborhood is

a good place to live......     6.1%       24.0%   18.0%           16.1%

 

If possible, respondent would

Stay in neighborhood...........47.9       71.4    36.7            52.1^

Move...........................52.1       28.6    63.3            47.9

 

Feels unsafe in street

after dark.......             75.0%       68.8%  72.0%            71.9%

Looks the other way

with problems.......          39.1        31.9   59.6             43.6*

 

Sees gangs as one

  of 3 major problems           2.5%        36.1%   80.9%          35.4%^

Agrees that "gangs     

  are not all bad".....       18.4        28.0    18.0           21.4

Would join an

   anti-gang organization....  91.3        83.3   69.4            81.0+

 

Total N (=100%)            (50)     (50)    (50)         (150)

 

^ Differences between neighborhoods significant past .001.

* Differences between neighborhoods significant past .01.

+ Differences between neighborhoods significant past .05.

 

 

3. Most gang members have conventional aspirations and demonstrate a strong committment to American culture.

 

"New Jack" and "Homeboy" Response to

Thirteen Questions comprising the New jack Attitude Index

 

Question

New Jack Response

Homeboy Response

A 25, 26  Looking back over

the past five years, what

 major changes took place in your life —  things

that happened that really

made things different for

you?

Didn't change. Still gang banging.

Got a family, I got shot or friends or relatives got shot or killed, or I went to jail and I changed.  Did too many drugs.  Matured, grew up, went through stages

B8. How has your (beliefs in People or Folks gang laws) changed since you were a teenager?

I'm into it still the same or I'm more into it

Less into it or not at all into it

B36  Why do you keep selling dope? Why not just get any kind of straight job and work your way up the ladder?

 I didn't want a job

Money was too good to quit, a good job was too hard to find, I considered drug sales a job, I wanted to buy lots of things

B97  What happens when someone thinks you sold them bad dope or got shorted?

 

I won't give anything to complainers, people who say that are bullshitting and I won't do anything for them; (Respondent gets upset).

Never happened to me because I don't sell bad dope. I reason with them, find out the problem and straighten it out. I don't want them to call the cops

B122 Do you consider it wrong or immoral to sell dope?

No

Yes

C48   How much respect does selling drugs give you? and

C49   How much power does selling drugs give you? and

C50   How much pride does selling drugs give you?

Quite a bit or alot. 

 

(four and five on a scale of one to five with one being not at and five being alot)

None or not much

 

(one and two on a scale of one to five with one being not at and five being alot)

D70  If you could change one thing about your life when you were growing up, what would it be?

Be more deviant, not lose all the money, not get caught

Stay in school, stay away from drugs, listen to my parents, have better morals, get better jobs, have more self esteem, stay out of jail

 

G15  If you were Chief of Police, how would you enforce the laws against drug use and selling? Are there some things you would do differently than the police are doing now? 

 I wouldn't be a cop, I can't even see myself as a cop

Crackdown on dealers, on the cartels, corrupt politicans and police, have more drug treatment.  Talk to people not just arrest them, legalize it, have more jobs

H2.  Five years from now, what would you want to be doing? and

H3.  What do you realistically expect you'll be doing in five years?

 

Prison, dead, fucking off, same ol' same ol'

Working, married, settled down, own my own business, can't see that far, I take things day by day, win the lottery, help the community

 

 

 

Figure  2

 

Street-Oriented and More Conventional Responses to

Thirteen Questions comprising the Street-Oriented Family Index

 

Question

Street-Oriented Family Response

More Conventional Family Response

D2,  D10  What was your father's (mother's)  occupation when you were growing up?

 Hustler, informal economy

Any other  job

D5, D13   Did your father (mother) ever hustle?

yes

no

D7, D15,    Did your family know about it (father or mother's hustling)  at the time:

yes

no or not applicable

D8, D16  Did your family approve of your father's (mother's) hustles?

yes

no or not applicable

D33  What did they think about it (R's involvement in a gang)?

approval

disapproval

D51  When you were growing up, how many relatives did you know who were hustling?

more than three

none, one, or two

D55  Was anyone in your home a heavy drug user when you were growing up?

yes

no

D56  Who was that? (heavy drug user

 Father or Mother;  or more than one relative named

none, or named only one relative and not father or mother

D69  Did you hear about gang first from friends or from someone in your family? 

 

from family

from friends

 

 


 

 

Figure 3

 


Figure 4.

Distribution Of Street-Oriented Responses on Family Index


Figure 5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The nature of gang violence has changed, with lethal violence now more likely to be related to the drug trade than to gang rivalries.

 

Our data allow us to describe in detail the nature of male gang violence in Milwaukee as gang members began to sell cocaine.  Make no mistake,  gang violence is still largely male.  While females engaged in as much adolescent fighting as males,  men in our sample were shot at almost thirty times more often than the women. Men also personally witnessed six times as many homicides.

Table 1.

Exposure To Violence by Gender

 

 

Cumulative Total of times

all respon­dents

were  shot at

Mean per Gang Member

Cumulative Total of people all

respondents had seen killed

Mean per Gang Member

Male Gang Members

N=68

 

617

 

9.1

 

143

 

2.1

Female Gang Members

N=68

 

23

 

.33

 

21

 

.31

 The N=68 of the males represents the fact that many Latinos refused to answer these questions. It is likely that refusals were mainly due to reluctance to admit continued involvement with drive-by shootings. Thus our male data is likely to underestimate both  male violence as well as the gulf between male and female exposure to violence.

Violence differed in many ways depending on whether the incident was a fight, whether guns were used, or whether the violence was lethal.  For the respondents as well as his antagonists, both fights and gun related violence were strongly associated with "being high" on alcohol or drugs.

 

 

Table 2. Fist Fights and Shooting Incidents  

 

Type of Incident

The opponent or shooter was high at the time

The Respondent was high at the  time

The opponent or shooter was a friend or relative

In last three fights

 

N= 129

         64.30%         

            

             

                     (83)

70.00%    

 

 

(89)           

     22.50%  

 

 

(29)

last three times Respondent was shot at

 

N= 115

          81.70%    

 

 

             

                    (94)

    50.40%    

 

 

 

(58)  

      11.30%   

 

 

 

(13)

 

 

Table 3. Homicides

 

 

Type of Incident

Victim was high at the time

The person who did the killing was high at the time

The victim was a friend or relative

last three persons R has seen killed

 

N= 77

          59.70%     

 

 

                   

                    (46)

     54.50%  

 

 

 

(42)

     31.10%  

 

 

 

(24)

Row totals do not equal 100% since more than one category could be selected.  Note: in this data, it is impossible to reliable distinguish whether "high" means on alcohol or drugs.  

We asked questions aimed at typing violence by gang members in Goldstein's (1985) well known tripartite typology.  Goldstein categorized drug related violence as either “psychopharmacological” — or induced by a physiological reaction to the drug;  as “economic compulsive” — or violence accompanying robbery or theft to get money to buy drugs;  or  “systemic” — violence related to the drug transaction itself.   There is a consensus in the literature that most drug related violence is “systemic” (e.g. Fagan and Chin 1991).  Factoring in multiple responses, our data show that at least a quarter of all incidents of lethal violence witnessed by gang members are drug related and drugs may be related to about a third to half of all adult gang violence.

 Table 4. Goldstein's Tripartite Typology

 

Type of Incident

While Ripping off to get  Drugs

 (“economic

compulsive ”)

Happened after the drugs were all gone (“psychopharma-cological”)

Related to a dope deal gone  bad

(“systemic”)

last three fights

 

N= 129

4.70%     

 

(11)

12.00%  

 

(28)

6.00%     

 

(6)

last three times the respondent was shot at

 

N= 115

5.80%     

 

 

(10)

13.30%   

 

 

(22)

11.20%    

 

 

(19)

last three persons the respondent has seen killed

 

N= 77

19.60%     

 

 

(19)

18.80%   

 

 

(13)

23.20%    

 

 

(23)

 

This is a significant amount of drug related violence. While most of the shooting incidents gang members had been involved in were gang related, many of those gang disputes were little more than thinly disguised drug disputes.  However, while drugs play a significant role in adult gang violence,  most of the violent incidents reported to us were familiar tales of aggression by one male toward another.   To a large extent, everyday gang fights today are no different than they were in Thrasher’s time.   Fist fights were as likely to be "over a woman" as gang-related,  often recalling scenes from West Side Story.

 

 

Table 5. Gang-related Violence and Violence "Over A Woman"

 

 

Type of Incident

Over a Woman

Gang Related

last three fights

 

N= 129

17.50%   

 

(41)

18.10%     

 

(42)

last three times R was shot at

 

N= 115

12.50%   

 

 

(22)

62.40%   

 

 

(111)

last three persons R has seen killed

 

N= 77

13.30%   

 

 

(13)

46.90%     

 

 

(46)

 

Despite media stereotypes, not all gang men are alike in their participation in violence.  One indicator of variation in rates of violence among gang members are arrests.  As you can see in Table 6, half of the gang men we interviewed were never arrested for a violent crime, and nearly three quarters had no more than one such arrest.  While arrests do not necessarily reflect violent behavior, the data below do suggest wide variation in behavior exists.

Table 6

 

Male Gang Member Arrests for Violent Crimes

N= 81 Mean =.9

 

 

 

 

 

Correlation Coefficients

                                                                       

Variables

New Jack Index

Street Family Index

Times

Shot At

Persons

Seen Killed

Systemic Violence

New Jack Index

1.0000

.1677

.3272**

.3067**

.2575*

Street Family Index

.1677

1.0000

,2686*

.0654

.0652

Times

Shot At

.3272**

.2686*

1.0000

.2754*

.1256

Persons

Seen Killed

.3067**

.0654

.2754*

1.0000

.3973**

Systemic Violence

.2575*

.0652

.1256

.3973**

1.0000

 

* - Signif. LE .05      ** - Signif. LE .01      (2-tailed)

 

 

Female Gang Fights by Ethnicity

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

AFRICAN AMERICANS

LATINAS

SIGNIF.

1. How often did you use

weapons?

 

 

N.S.

never

50.0%

35.8%

 

only once or twice

33.3%

45.3%

 

about half of the time

11.1%

17.0%

 

most of the time

5.6%

1.9%

 

2. What was the main reason

for gang fights?

 

 

p< .01

Respect

23.5%

13.5%

 

Representing, turf: gang related

41.2%

78.8%

 

Jealousy, the guys

29.4%

3.8%

 

Felt like it

5.9%

3.8%

 

3. How did you feel about

fighting

 

 

N.S.

(p<.08)

Not a Fighter

 

5.6%

 

Down for It

27.8%

51.9%

 

Liked to Fight

72.2%

42.6%

 

4. Did you fight a lot with

anyone other than the gang?

 

 

N.S.

Yes

72.2%

53.7%

 

No

27.8%

46.3%

 

5. Did the girls fight alongside

of the guys in gang fights?

 

 

N.S.

Yes

47.1%

45.3%

 

No

52.9%

49.1%

 

Other

 

5.7%

 

 

 

5. Gang involvement is a major risk factor for drug use, but the reasons for adult and adolescent drug use differ.

 

 

 

Street-Oriented and More Conventional Responses to

Thirteen Questions comprising the Street-Oriented Family Index

 

Question

Street-Oriented Family Response

More Conventional Family Response

D2,  D10  What was your father's (mother's)  occupation when you were growing up?

 Hustler, informal economy

Any other  job

D5, D13   Did your father (mother) ever hustle?

yes

no

D7, D15,    Did your family know about it (father or mother's hustling)  at the time:

yes

no or not applicable

D8, D16  Did your family approve of your father's (mother's) hustles?

yes

no or not applicable

D33  What did they think about it (R's involvement in a gang)?

approval

disapproval

D51  When you were growing up, how many relatives did you know who were hustling?

more than three

none, one, or two

D55  Was anyone in your home a heavy drug user when you were growing up?

yes

no

D56  Who was that? (heavy drug user

 Father or Mother;  or more than one relative named

none, or named only one relative and not father or mother

D69  Did you hear about gang first from friends or from someone in your family? 

 

from family

from friends

 


 

Severe Family Distress Index

 

Question                       Range of Responses       Severe Distress

 

How Often did you see

your dad hit your mom?

 

1 to 5. From "never" to

"more than once

a month"

More than Once a Month

How often did you see

your mom hit your dad?

 

1 to 5. From "never" to

"more than once

a month"

More than Once a Month

How often did your

parents beat or whup you?

1 to 5. From "never" to

"more than once

a month"

More than Once a Month

 

 

How often did you

physically fight back?

1 to 5. From "never' to

"often"

 

Often

How well did your parents

get along

1 to 5 From "got along

fine" to "fought all the

 time."

Fought all the time

How often did your family

have problems with the

basics (clothes, food, etc)

1 to 5. From "never" to

"always"

Always or almost always


 

Male Substance Use N= 86

 

SUBSTANCES

  MEANS OF AGE  OF 1st

 USE AND DURATION

 

African American

Latino

TOBACCO:  AGE OF FIRST USE

14.75          (40)

13.89              (18)

TOBACCO:  DURATION

 7.12 YRS    (40)

 7.59YRS        (19)

ALCOHOL:  AGE OF FIRST USE

13.95          (41)

16.00              (26)

ALCOHOL:  DURATION

10.56YRS    (41)

10.57YRS        (26)

MARIJUANA:   AGE OF FIRST USE

14.23          (51)

15.78              (23)

MARIJUANA:   DURATION

10.02YRS    (51)

7.03YRS          (23)

ANY COCAINE:  AGE OF FIRST USE

20.83          (29)

17.84              (19)

ANY COCAINE:  DURATION

3.72 YRS     (29)

6.79 YRS         (19)

ANY COCAINE:   ACTUAL YEAR

1986

1982

 

 

 

 

N=57

N=29

*Latino includes   86% Puerto Rican and  14% Mexican. There were no signficant differences between the two groups. Duration means from first use until last use including periods of intrrrupted use.

 

Female Substance Use N= 69

 

SUBSTANCES

 MEANS OF AGE OF 1st

 USE AND DURATION

 

African American

Latina

TOBACCO:  AGE OF FIRST USE

17.33           (6)

15.87           (23)

TOBACCO:  DURATION

 4.83YRS      (6)

8.35YRS       (23)

ALCOHOL:  AGE OF FIRST USE

15.81          (16)

15.86           (44)

ALCOHOL:  DURATION

  6.25YRS    (16)

  7.70YRS     (44)

MARIJUANA:   AGE OF FIRST USE

15.13          (15)

15.49           (41)

MARIJUANA:   DURATION

  6.71YRS    (15)

   6.73YRS    (41)

ANY COCAINE:  AGE OF FIRST USE

18.71            (7)

17.39           (23)

ANY COCAINE:  DURATION

2.57YRS        (7)

 5.22YRS      (23)

ANY COCAINE:   ACTUAL YEAR

1986

1983

 

 

 

 

N=18

N=51

*Latina includes  63% Puerto Rican and  37 % Mexican. There were no signficant differences between the two groups.


 

Gang Substance Use versus National Averages

 

MALES

 

 

 

 

 

 

1988 U. S.  Population

Average

African American National Average(M)

Milwaukee African  American.

Gang

Latino: National Average

Milwaukee

Latino

Gang

 

 

 

 

 

 

% ever used alcohol

89.50%

83.30%

71.93%

86.60%

92.86%

% ever used marijuana

36.90%

41.40%

89.50%

34.20%

82.70%

% ever used cocaine

13.10%

13.40%

50.90%

13.90%

69.90%

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEMALES

 

 

 

 

 

 

1988 U. S.  Population

Average

African American National Average (F)

Milwaukee African  American.

Gang

Latina: National Average

Milwaukee

Latina

Gang

% ever used alcohol

80.80%

71.70%

88.90%

72.10%

88.00%

% ever used marijuana

29.70%

26.50%

83.33%

21.70%

82.00%

% ever used cocaine

8.50%

5.90%

38.88%

8.10%

46.00%

Mean age Milwaukee Males and Females = 28. National data from 1988 NIDA National Household Survey. In 1988 most Milwaukee gang members were at the end of their teenage years.


 

"Serious" Cocaine Use by Gang Members

 

Cocaine Use

Males

Females

Never Used

 37.7%              (34)

 64.4%             (47)

Occasional Use

 25.5%              (23)

16.4%              (12)

Serious Use

 36.6%              (33)

 19.2%             (14)

Totals

                   N= 90

                    N=73

Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

Cocaine Use By Family Type.  (Males Only)

Family Type

Conven-

tional

Declining

Street-

Oriented

Ever Used Cocaine

27.8%   (5) * 

70.5% (31)

68.4% (13)

Average First Use of

Cocaine

19.8 yrs

19.1 yrs

21.1 yrs

Duration Use of Cocaine

3.8 yrs

5.3yrs

4.2 yrs

Ever a Serious User

27.8%  (5)   **

29.5% (13)

68.4%  (13)

N=90

N=18

N=44

N=19

* p < .05;  ** p < .01

 

       Severe Family  Distress by Cocaine Use

Females N= 73

Severe

Distress

Not Severe

 Distress

 

29.3% (22)

70.7% (51)

Ever Used Cocaine

59.1%  (13)

38.5% (20)

Average First Use of Cocaine

17.9 yrs

17.1 yrs

Duration Use of Cocaine  (SD= 3.94 yrs)

4.5 yrs

5.0 yrs.

Ever a Serious User

31.8%  (7)

13.2%  (7)

 

 

 

Males N= 81

Severe

Distress

Not Severe

 Distress

 

30.5% (25)

69.5% (56)

Ever Used Cocaine

72.0%  (18)

49.1% (28)

Average First Use of Cocaine

19.0 yrs

20.3 yrs

Duration Use of Cocaine  SD= (4.15yrs)

6.0 yrs

4.0 yrs.

Ever a Serious User

28.0%  (7)

41.1%  (23)

 


 

Table 7

Cocaine and Alcohol Use and Family Violence.

 

How often has the use of drugs or alcohol got you into a physical fight with family or the ones you love?

African American Males

Latino Males

NEVER

64.2%      (34)

31.0%          (9)

A FEW TIMES PER YEAR

26.3%      (15)

27.9%         (10)

ONCE A WEEK TO ONCE A MONTH

  1.9%      (1)

17.2%          ( 5)

MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK

   3.8%      (2)

17.2%           (5)

TOTALS

              N= 53

               N= 29

n.s. (p<.06)

 

Close Friends' Use of Cocaine

 

Think of your three best friends again. How many would you consider heavy users of  cocaine?

African American Males

Latino Males

None

55.6%                 (30)

37.9%                  (11)

One

27.8%                 (15)

10.3%                    (3)

Two

5.6%                     (3)

 24.1%                   (7)

Three

11.1%                   (6)

27.6%                    (8)

Totals

                         N=54

                        N=29

P<.05

 


 

 

 

FAMILY DISTRESS INDEX

 

 

WOMEN

-Have you ever been placed in a foster or other juvenile institution?

-Did anybody in your home get arrested when you were growing up?

-Did anyone in your home have a drinking problem when you were  growing up?

-Did anyone in your home use drugs when you  were growing up?

-When you were a teenager, were any of your relatives ever killed          because of gangs or drugs?

-Did you ever see your father hit your mother?

-Did you ever see your mother hit your father?

-Did your mom or dad ever whup you or beat you?

-Did you ever run away from home when you were a kid?

-Did anybody in your family ever make sexual advances to you when       you were growing up?

-Family Warmth scale when you were 13, 1=a lot of warmth, 5= a lot      of hate. (This scale was dichotomized so that  any response   equal or less than 3 was coded zero, any response greater than 3 was coded one).

 

MEN

-Have you ever been placed in a foster or other juvenile institution?

-Did you ever see your father hit your mother?

-Did you ever see your mother hit your father?

-Did your mom or dad ever whup you or beat you?

-Did you ever have sexual experiences with an adult while you were       a young child?

-Did your father ever hustle?

-Did your mother ever hustle?

-Did you ever run away from home when you were a kid?

-Did anybody in your home get arrested when you were growing up?

-Did anyone in your home drink heavily when you were growing up?

-Was anyone in your home a heavy drug user when you were         growing up?

-Did any relatives in your home hustle when you were growing up?

-How well did your parents get along, scale.  1= great, 5= fought all      the time (This scale was dichotomized so that  any response    equal or less than 3 was coded zero, any response greater than 3 was coded one).

 

 

 

6. The impact of prison is unknown on gang members, but most males appear to be settling down in conventional lives regardless of whether they have been to prison or not.

 

 

 

 

Used Cocaine by Ever Went to Jail

 

Used Dope:

Yes

No

 Now Locked Up

Deceased

Unknown

Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has been to jail

75%

(81)

67.4%

(31)

100%

(24)

 

22.2%

(8)

144

Has never been to jail

22.2% (24)

32.6%

(15)

 

 

19.4%

(7)

46

Unknown or

Deceased

2.8%

(3)

 

 

100%

(14)

58.3%

(21)

38

Column N=

108

46

24

14

36

228

 P<.001

 

 

Work Status by Ever Went to Jail

 

Work Status

Working

Legit Job

Hustling

Other

Totals

 

 

 

 

 

Has been to jail

54.2%

(39)

76.0%

(92)

37.1%

(13)

144

Has never been to jail

43.1%

(31)

9.9%

(12)

8.6%

(3)

46

Unknown or

Deceased

2.8%

(2)

14.0%

(17(

54.3%

(19)

38

Column N=

72

121

35

228

 

 

While our data need more elaboration, it appears that those men who went to prison and returned to live in their old neighborhood were more likely to use drugs and to hustle for a living than those who moved out of their old neighborhood.  Cocaine use for adults appeared to be more related to adult experiences of joblessness, prison, and loss of steady relationships, than simply the consequence of earlier family problems (Torres et al. 1996).

 

 



3 The names of all gangs and neighborhoods have been changed. Many of the drug operations described in this paper were continuing as this paper was being written.