youth_gangs_an_overview - DE PA U.S Department of Justice...

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D E P A R T M E N T O F J U S T I C E O F F I C E O F J U S T I C E P R O G R A M S B J A N I J O J J D P B J S O V C U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Shay Bilchik, Administrator From the Administrator Despite recent declines in juvenile crime, our Nation continues to face a youth gang problem. As part of our response to public concern about this problem, OJJDP has initiated the Youth Gang Series to explore key issues related to youth gangs. These issues include gang migration, female involvement with gangs, and the growth of gang activity related to homicide, drugs, and overall delinquency. Youth Gangs: An Overview, the initial Bulletin in this series, brings together available knowledge on youth gangs by reviewing data and research. The author begins with a look at the history of youth gangs and their demographic characteristics. He then assesses the scope of the youth gang problem, including gang problems in juvenile detention and correctional facilities. A review of gang studies provides a clearer understanding of several issues. An extensive list of references is also included for further review. The Bulletin makes a clear statement that a successful gang intervention and suppression strategy must build on services already in place in our communities to develop a compre- hensive approach that will enhance the capacity of the juvenile justice system. The information provided here and in subsequent titles of this series will serve as a good starting point toward that end. Shay Bilchik Administrator August 1998 FPO Youth Gangs: An Overview James C. Howell The proliferation of youth gangs since 1980 has fueled the public’s fear and mag- nified possible misconceptions about youth gangs. To address the mounting concern about youth gangs, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has initiated the Youth Gang Series to delve into many of the key issues related to youth gangs. These issues include gang migration, gang growth, female involvement with gangs, homicide, drugs and violence, and the needs of communities and youth who live in the presence of youth gangs. This Bulletin, the first in the series, provides an overview of the problems that youth gangs pose, pinpoints the differences between youth gangs and adult criminal organiza- tions, examines the risk factors that lead to youth gang membership, and presents promising strategies being used to curb youth gang involvement. Introduction The United States has seen rapid prolif- eration of youth gangs 1 since 1980. During this period, the number of cities with gang problems increased from an estimated 286 jurisdictions with more than 2,000 gangs and nearly 100,000 gang members in 1980 (Miller, 1992) to about 4,800 jurisdictions with more than 31,000 gangs and approxi- mately 846,000 gang members in 1996 (Moore and Terrett, in press).
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