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Dead End Kids

Gang Girls and the Boys They Know

Mark S. Fleisher

Publication Year: 1998

Dead End Kids exposes both the depravity and the humanity in gang life through the eyes of a teenaged girl named Cara, a member of a Kansas City gang. In this shocking yet compassionate account, Mark Fleisher shows how gang girls’ lives are shaped by poverty, family disorganization, and parental neglect.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

Jim Gallison, John Shaw, Al and Diana Marshal, Philippe Bourgois, Kathleen O'Brien, Dale Welling and the executive staff and members of the National Major Gang Task Force, Gery Ryan, Devon Brewer, and Marcellus Andrews made contributions to this book by allowing me to talk ceaselessly about the Fremont Hustlers. ...

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pp. 3-12

Dead End Kids is a firsthand account of the lives of adolescents in a youth gang called the Fremont Hustlers in Kansas City, Missouri. I describe the social and economic pressure on these youngsters and the social arrangements and economic adaptations caused by that pressure. More specifically, I explore how parental neglect, ...

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1. The Call

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pp. 13-14

On December 18, 1996, at 10:15 P.M., while my 18-year-old daughter, Emily, baked Christmas cookies, and my 15-year-old son, Aaron, practiced the cello, the phone rang in the kitchen of my house in Normal, Illinois. Emily grabbed it and yelled, "Dad, it's for you." I walked from the dining room into the kitchen to get the phone. ...

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2. Fremont Hustlers

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pp. 15-38

Interstate 70 crosses 1-435 on the east side of KC near the Truman Sports Complex, the stadiums of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs, and cuts through the downtown and metropolitan KC. 1-435 wraps metropolitan Kansas City in a ribbon of concrete. ...

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3. Inside

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pp. 39-58

"Membership" in the Fremont Hustlers is a peculiar idea.1 Wendy, Cara, and Cheri listed 72 males and females on the Fremont Hustler membership roster; however, Fremont kids don't refer to one another as members, nor do they think of themselves as having "joined a gang."2 ...

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4. Families

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pp. 59-70

On the first Sunday in July 1995, I met Cathy, Cara's mom, at about 3:00 in the afternoon as she lay curled up under a comforter on a double bed watching a black-and-white movie on a color television. Heavy, dark wood furniture lined the walls; a shaded window dimmed the room. ...

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5. Dark Side

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pp. 71-85

Fremont's drug business operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the first part of my Fremont research. Business was brisk every day, but on Friday and Saturday at dusk and throughout the evening, business was especially good. Young drug sellers were protected somewhat by the darkness cast since Fremont boys ...

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6. Misery

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pp. 86-97

By the time social life stabilized after the bust, the humid summer of 1995 had been replaced by the crisp air of the 1995-96 football season. Kansas City loves Chiefs football, and the town was alive and bubbling with the excitement. On Fremont, leafy trees towered over small, two-story, wood frame houses ...

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7. 5403 Smart: the Northeast Gangstas

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pp. 98-117

Fremont girls don't welcome a move home. Unless they have no other choices, they resist it. Fremont boys are even less willing than girls to retreat home, and I don't know a boy who did it. Fremont kids said a return home is a retreat, a sign of weakness, an inability to make it on their own. ...

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8. The Arrest

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pp. 118-129

When I met the Northeast boys, TJ was 16. He was five-eight, 150 pounds, well built. He and Bernard are handsome brothers. Both of them have a wonderful sense of humor, an ability to describe complicated social scenes with clarity, and they are colorful storytellers. ...

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9. Borderline

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pp. 130-164

Cara tried to call me but couldn't, Cathy said, because the jail's phone system wouldn't allow inmates to use 800 numbers. What troubled me was that Cara couldn't call me collect either. Every two days I called Cathy's, and either Cathy or April shuttled information to me about Cara and her legal case. ...

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10. Wrong Side

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pp. 165-186

Cara called me on September 1, the day she and Wendy moved into the Raytown apartment. She was excited and optimistic about staying out of trouble. I asked for the phone number and address and said I'd be over soon. Cara transferred to a Taco Bell near the Blue Ridge Mall, ...

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11. Miscarriage

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pp. 187-201

Cara and I talked at least every three days. I wanted her to see a doctor and a social worker and to call her PO about the pregnancy. The PO was still squeezing her about repaying court-ordered costs and, I thought, the PO might lighten the pressure on Cara if she knew Cara was six weeks pregnant. ...

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12. Pregnant Again

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pp. 202-204

When I drove away from Cathy's apartment on the evening of February 8, I started a gradual social and psychological withdrawal from Fremont and Northeast and Cara's life. I called Cathy at the end of February and chatted about work and her daughters and grandchildren. ...

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13. A Look Back

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pp. 205-209

In June 1995, when I drove to Wendy's house on Fremont Avenue, I found the prospect of doing research with its kids, whom the KCPD called one of the most active gangs, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Simply the thought of hanging out with the Fremont Hustlers electrified me and at the same time filled me with apprehension. ...

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14. Gang Girls, Gang Babies

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pp. 210-225

"What would you do," Janet asked me during my research, "if your daughter was like us?" In response to Janet's question, I recommend a two-step program of supervised residential centers, designed for adolescent and young adult, gang-affiliated females ("gang girls"), with special care given to pregnant gang girls and young mothers. ...

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15. Street Enthography: Methods, Ethics, and Politics

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pp. 226-252

Dead End Kids is an ethnographic study of delinquents who were also members of a youth gang. This type of research is known as street ethnography, or the study of people whose lives are played out on the streets of a community. Street ethnographers are most often interested in people who break the law, ...


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pp. 253-274


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pp. 275-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780299158835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299158842

Publication Year: 1998