Studies of gang violence typically use police reports to investigate the structure of gang conflict, but overreliance on a singular data source could impede crime control efforts. Extending networked criminology, this study aims to explore what court records reveal about the directionality of gang conflicts.
Controlling for the presence of a civil gang injunction (CGI), the authors use multivariate quadratic assignment procedure regression models to disentangle factors thought to account for structural patterns of gang violence mapped from 933 prosecutions involving 307 gangs associated with violent conflict affecting the City of Los Angeles (1998–2013). Specifically, the authors compare competitive advantage to the explanatory power of turf proximity.
One measure of turf proximity outperforms all other explanatory factors – gangs with turf centrally positioned in a turf adjacency matrix are significantly more likely to launch attacks, be victimized and exhibit the highest levels of imbalance in their violent involvements. Regarding competitive advantage, the number of cliques and level of internal conflict are significant. Finally, being subject to a CGI is associated with initiating violence.
Court cases offer a feasible alternative to police data when investigating patterns of intergroup street gang violence.
Funding: This research was supported by a grant, no. 2017-JF-FX-0043, awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice, to California State University San Bernardino. The opinions, findings, and conclusions and recommendations expressed are those of the authors only.
Bichler, G., Norris, A. and Ibarra, C. (2021), "Explaining the directionality of gang violence with court records", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 13 No. 2/3, pp. 83-95. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-11-2020-0558
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