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Gang Activity and the Falling Crime Rate
By National Gang Center Quarterly Newsletter - Spring 2012
Published: 05/07/2012

Gang 12 Nationally, violent crime and homicide rates have declined by approximately 50 percent over the past 20 years (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2011), and violent crime arrest rates for adult and juveniles alike are at their lowest levels in 30 years (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011). Yet, in comparison to these historic trends, one notable dissimilarity is the continued presence of gangs and gang activity across many jurisdictions in the United States.

Recent analysis of three key indicators in the annual survey conducted by the National Gang Center (NGC) suggests that gang trends are notably diverging—if not independent—from overall crime trends:
  • The percentage of jurisdictions reporting gang activity increased from approximately 25 percent to 34 percent over the past decade. That is, gang activity is more widespread now than it was ten years ago (though not as widespread as it was in the mid-1990s).

  • In the largest cities across the United States (populations over 100,000), where gang violence is largely concentrated, the number of gang-related homicides increased approximately 10 percent from 2008 to 2009 and then again from 2009 to 2010.

    A recent NGC publication found that a significant percentage (29 percent) of all large cities in the study experienced consistent and high gang-homicide prevalence rates from 1996 to 2009. Annually, in this subgroup of cities, around 40 percent of the homicides were determined to be gang-related. See: http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Content/Documents/Bulletin-6.pdf
These results demonstrate that gang activity and gang crime are not necessarily a microcosm of the overall crime problem in the United States. At a time when most cities are experiencing their lowest levels of violent crime in a quarter of a century, gang activity remains broadly distributed, and, for a sizeable number of large cities, gang activity remains a potent problem in terms of serious and violent crime. Knowledge and awareness of these distinct and separate trends allow for a more specific, less generalized discussion on the intersection of gangs and crime.

Reprinted from National Gang Center Quarterly Newsletter - Spring 2012


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