|Violent Gang Crimes - Vertical Prosecution: Operation Hardcore|
|By National Gang Center Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2012|
In 1979, with support from the federal government, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office established a specialized prosecution unit devoted to violent gang crimes: Operation Hardcore (now known as the Hardcore Gang Investigations Unit). Prosecutors handled only gang related cases, and their caseloads were reduced. Cases were handled vertically, or on a continuous basis, by prosecutors, and additional investigative support was provided (e.g., funds for witness relocation). Los Angeles provides a unique context to understand how one of the largest district attorney’s offices in the United States tackled a growing and increasingly violent gang problem. Little is known about the effectiveness of specialized gang prosecution units in the United States.
In a study published in 2011, "Gang-Related Homicide Charging Decisions: The Implementation of a Specialized Prosecution Unit in Los Angeles", Pyrooz and colleagues reanalyzed data collected by Judith Dahmann (1982) in her original report, which showed that with vertical prosecution, Operation Hardcore produced more convictions and a higher rate of state prison commitments. Based on 614 murder cases forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for charging decisions between 1976 and 1980, the research team focused on the offender, the victim, and incident factors associated with case rejection. In a more rigorous analysis than was used in the original study, it examined whether Operation Hardcore was effective in moving cases forward. Two key findings were identified::
Reprinted from the National Gang Center Newsletter - Fall 2012
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