Dr. Jonathan Rosen, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Arts and Sciences, recently published an article entitled “Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination: Challenges for Reinsertion of Gang Members in Developing Countries” in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
Along with his co-author, José Miguel Cruz from Florida International University, the pair explore how to “better understand the discrimination mechanisms that ex-gang members perceive upon leaving the gang and seeking to reinsert themselves into a society marked by high levels of violence and inequality, as in Central America,” according to the abstract.
“This research is based on a project on Salvadoran street gangs that I conducted with my colleagues at FIU,” Rosen said. “We surveyed nearly 1,200 gang members and performed 24 in-depth interviews with ex-gang members. After completing a report in English and Spanish about our findings, we decided to work on various academic publications.”
Rosen and Cruz conducted interviews with former members of MS-13, the 18th Street gang, and other El Salvadorian street gangs to analyze the different mechanisms of discrimination and how they can affect those looking for employment and to rejoin society.
“Many scholars focus on leaving a gang and reinserting ex-gang members into society in developed countries, such as the United States,” Rosen said. “We found that former gang members who are trying to make an honest living face many obstacles in El Salvador. Gang members are discriminated not only for their physical appearances, for example, their tattoos and gang affiliation, but also because they are from marginalized communities. Former gang members who are unable to find employment and overcome discrimination may be lured back to the gang life.”
Rosen’s work with gang members also led him to WHYY’s Radio Times on July 5, where he discussed MS-13 and what they stand for as a gang in the United States and abroad. A replay of his interview is available by clicking here.