WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs has announced the release of Findings From the Evaluation of OJJDP's Gang Reduction Program, a bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
Researchers from the Urban Institute conducted an independent evaluation of OJJDP's Gang Reduction Program (GRP), a $10 million, multiyear initiative to reduce crime associated with youth street gangs in Los Angeles, Calif.; Milwaukee, Wis.; North Miami Beach, Fla.; and Richmond, Va. Key findings included the sites' progress in building partnerships, reaching a consensus understanding of local gang problems, cultivating social service providers, and planning to sustain anti-gang activities. In addition, the researchers found some evidence that GRP was associated with reduced levels of crime and gang-related incidents in three of the four demonstration sites. The authors made recommendations for the GRP program model and policy, as well as for communities wanting to implement the model.
Youth gangs have existed in various forms since at least the 19th century, although the nature and extent of their activity has evolved over time. Over the past 25 years in particular, gangs have expanded rapidly both in size and their areas of operation. Gangs today are more violent, their activities are more widespread and pervasive, and they are more entrenched within the community.
Research highlights the relationship between gang involvement and increased criminality; gang-involved youth engage in more frequent and more serious criminal activity than they do prior to joining or after they leave a gang. A number of individual, family, and community risk factors increase one’s likelihood of becoming involved with a gang. Although anti-gang programs have traditionally addressed these risk factors through prevention, intervention, or suppression activities, recent approaches have employed more comprehensive strategies that incorporate different elements into a flexible model for organized gang crime reduction. Evaluations suggest that these comprehensive models are particularly difficult to implement; nevertheless, they continue to garner increasing attention and warrant extensive implementation and outcome evaluations. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Gang Reduction Program (GRP) is one such comprehensive program, an outgrowth of previous comprehensive approaches to reduce and prevent gang activity at the local level.