Deviance Training in the Criminal Justice System

Deviance training is one of the strategies that boost an individual’s capacity to engage in unacceptable behavior and be sought after by the criminal justice system. Many people, particularly the youths, have found themselves in prisons due to engagements that were driven by their peers through such training. Schneider, Gruman and Couts (2012) present a case of a teenage boy, who was murdered by a group of boys who were older than him and who had ganged up for a fight against another group that failed to turn up. Circumstances offered them an opportunity to rob Matti and his six friends who had gone out to the same park where this gang had been. Matti decided to defend his friends by telling the group to stop bothering him and his friends thus causing the stir that culminated into his death while his friends fled off and left the group to do as they wished. Though the case involved the arrest of some suspects, there were no charges that could be interpreted as fairness to the deceased due to lack of adequate evidence. All is is despite the presence of an occurrence that happened on a busy street where various individuals heard Matti’s outcry but took no measures to save the boy (Schneider et al., 2012).

Several such gangs attack other unsuspecting individuals and get away with it just because there was no one to witness the occurrences and offer a testimony in court for them to be charged. While there are cases where such gangs end up being caught as suspects, a fair trial rarely takes place as individuals are either unwilling to testify or fear of the possible or probable outcome if they were to testify. Cockburn (2017), writing for The Independent, a prominent UK newspaper, narrated a story of a gang that is known for several criminal activities, and mostly murder. There is a common belief that this street gang, based in Los Angeles, kills several individuals with some of the killings driven by the necessity to make satanic rituals. This gang has a name Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 and is the only street gang that the US government associates with the organization of transnational criminal activities.

In street gangs and any other kind of gang, men are a product of deviance training that mostly occurs at teenage, yet its effects can extend throughout the trainee’s life. While some teenage boys and sometimes girls stop criminal activities within a short time from commencement, there are others who continue with such endeavors as part of their criminal career. Schneider et al. (2012) present two kinds of deviant behavior: the limited adolescence individuals and life-course persistent groups. The latter form a majority of the gang individuals that the criminal justice system has to grapple with. Their presence is felt in almost every nation that is part of the entire globe. They are groups that keep the criminal justice personnel awake as they choose to commit a crime as a way of expressing their power which is at times depicted as more than that of the entire criminal justice system. The MS-13 can be likened to the terrorist gangs who undergo some training and then are deployed to the field to act on behalf of others who support the crime. The government never relents from searching for a bid to arrest such individuals, yet there is still a long way to go in fighting crime, not only in the US but worldwide. As a recommendation, it would be appropriate for the criminal justice system to work with the society to help eradicate deviance training and the criminal outcomes that sometimes culminate in deaths of several innocent citizens. Just like these groups adopt deviance training to promote their agenda, the criminal justice system can take multiple strategies for reducing or even eradicating crime and changing such individuals into citizens who can move the world forward, and become productive members of society.



Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Couts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Cockburn, H. (2017, March 10). The most feared gang in America ‘sacrifices teenage girl to Satan. The Independent. Retrieved from

1 comment

  1. First, I would like to acknowledge the thoughtfulness that went into this post. Deviance training is absolutely no joke. It is how they recruit individuals to enhance and strengthen their numbers, fully utilizing them to promote their agenda. On that note, may Matti rest easy. Not only was he in the “wrong place at the wrong time”, making his death an unfortunate circumstance, he didn’t receive help from his friends and strangers from the busy street. It’s like a loss of humanity there, reading that, for fear of street gangs.

    This reminds me of a video I watched of a young assumed middle grade school boy who was relentlessly bashed by other peers of his age that wore blue bandanas to signal they are Crips. It was an initiation the young boy wanted no part of. Instead, they kicked him around in the bathroom to “convince him” and that they were stronger together as a gang. The video was cut off in the middle of the action. This is what I can assume would be the limited adolescence individuals engaging in this deviance training. Furthermore, how could the justice system fight against deviance training?

    Deviance training seems rooted in oppression and low poverty driven neighborhoods. There needs to be more support given to those neighborhoods before deviance training can even be touched as an issue. It is the driving force of recruitment, yes, but educational awareness, support from the government and non-discrimination would drive a wedge between deviance training and standing street gangs.

    Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Couts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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