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Can Civil Gang Injunctions Change Communities? A Community Assessment of the Impact of Civil Gang Injunctions

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2004
101 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of a community-based gang intervention strategy called the Civil Gang Injunction, with attention to its impact on neighborhood residents.
A civil gang injunction is a legal process whereby selected gang members are prohibited from engaging in specified activities, such as loitering at schools, carrying pagers, and riding bicycles. Violators of the injunction are arrested. San Bernardino (California) was selected as the site for the evaluation of this strategy because its police department had already conducted three civil injunctions, and plans for further injunctions against specified gangs were under consideration. Measures of the impact of the strategy on the community focused on residents' perceptions and experience of crime, gang activity, and neighborhood quality. The study surveyed 797 residents in 5 neighborhoods 18 months prior to the injunction intervention and 1,229 residents 6 months after the issuance of an injunction. All residents surveyed were adults, with two-thirds being female. Two similarly disordered areas were compared. A third area that experienced an injunction intervention 5 years earlier was also studied. Analyses found evidence of short-term positive effects in the primary injunction area, including less gang presence, fewer reports of gang intimidation, and less resident fear of confrontation with gang members. The primary injunction area showed no significant changes in intermediate or long-term outcomes, however, except for lower fear of crime. Comparison of the new and old injunction areas suggested that improvements in neighborhood dynamics might occur over the long term. Further experimentation with civil gang injunctions is recommended, but with caution regarding the characteristics of the selected gang and the geographic scope of the injunction. 13 tables, 11 figures, 51 references, and appended survey instruments and materials

Date Published: April 1, 2004