“IT'S GETTING CRAZY OUT THERE”: CAN A CIVIL GANG INJUNCTION CHANGE A COMMUNITY?

Authors


*Address all correspondence to Cheryl Maxson, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, 2309 Social Ecology II, University of California, Irvine, CA 02697-7080. Support for this research was provided by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, Grant 98-IJ-CX-0038. Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. Kathy Kolnick and Stacy Harwood provided able research assistance on this study. We wish to thank Chief Garrett Zimmon and the San Bernardino Police Department for support of this research as well as Malcolm Klein, Valerie Jenness, Tracey Meares, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Abstract

Research Summary:

Civil gang injunctions are an increasingly popular gang suppression tactic. This article reports on the first scientific evaluation of the community impact of this strategy. San Bernardino residents in five neighborhoods were surveyed about their perceptions and experience of crime, gang activity, and neighborhood quality 18 months before and 6 months after the issuance of an injunction. Analyses indicated positive evidence of short-term effects in the disordered, primary injunction area, including less gang presence, fewer reports of gang intimidation, and less fear of confrontation with gang members, but no significant changes in intermediate or long-term outcomes except lower fear of crime. Comparison of this injunction area with a previous one suggested that improvements in neighborhood dynamics might accrue over the long term. Negative effects were observed in the secondary, less disordered injunction area.

Policy Implications:

This study suggests that the strategic suppression of gang member activities may translate into modest immediate improvements in community safety and well-being. Furthermore, the findings suggest that law enforcement use caution regarding the size of an injunction area and the type of gang targeted by the tactic. Coupling an injunction with efforts to improve neighborhood social organization and provide positive alternatives for gang members might substantially improve its effectiveness.

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