Given the growth and proliferation of criminal organizations such as street gangs, organized crime groups, and terrorist groups, it is not uncommon to have personal experiences with them. For instance, as an adolescent, you may have come into direct contact with a street gang or organized crime group in your community, either as a member or through friends or family who were members. You may have also been affected by a terrorist group that perpetrated an attack in which your loved ones or friends were injured or killed. Having personal experiences with criminal organizations provides you with a unique vantage point regarding the inner workings of such groups, their activities, and/or the devastation they cause to individuals, families, and the community at large.
If you have not had personal experiences with criminal organizations, consider why not. For instance, were you able to avoid specific risk factors related to becoming involved with a criminal organization, such as poverty and few educational options? Did you experience more protective factors than the average person, such as high parental involvement and academic achievement?
In this Journal, you reflect on your personal experiences (or lack thereof) with street gangs, organized crime groups, and terrorist groups.
Outside of your professional career, how have you experienced gangs, organized crime, and/or terrorist groups in your life? In your experience, how did the criminal justice system (police, courts, and corrections) identify and respond to these groups?
If you have never experienced gangs, organized crime, or terrorist groups personally, why do you think you have not?
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