Author Biography

Dr. Scott H. Decker is Professor and Director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. He received a B.A. in Social Justice from DePauw University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminology from Florida State University. His main research interests are in the areas of gangs, criminal justice policy, and the offender's perspective. His most recent books include European Street Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups (Winner of the American Society of Criminology, Division of International Criminology, Outstanding Distinguished book award, 2006); Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling: Lessons from the Inside (Temple University Press, 2008, CHOICE Academic Press Book of the Year); and Criminology and Public Policy: Putting Theory to Work (with Hugh Barlow) (2010 Temple University Press).

David C. Pyrooz, M.S., is a doctoral candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. He received his M.S. in Criminology from California State University, Fresno. His research interests revolve around gangs and deviant networks, developmental and life course criminology, violent offending and victimization, and the intersection between theory and policy. His research has appeared in Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice Policy Review, Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, Homicide Studies, and Social Science Research.



Subject Area Keywords

Counterterrorism, Fundamentalism, Gangs and criminal organizations, Ideology, Islamic culture and politics, Radicalization, Religious violence, Sociocultural dynamics in security, Violent extremism


What can street gangs tell us about radicalization and extremist groups? At first glance, these two groups seem to push the boundaries of comparison. In this article, we examine the important similarities and differences across criminal, deviant, and extremist groups. Drawing from research on street gangs, this article explores issues such as levels of explanation,organizational structure, group process, and the increasingly important role of technology and the Internet in the context of radicalization. There are points of convergence across these groups, but it is important to understand the differences between these groups. This review finds little evidence to support the contention that American street gangs are becoming increasingly radicalized. This conclusion is based largely on organizational differences between gangs and terror groups.