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Survey Results

Adults returning from prison: Effect on youth gangs

Survey respondents were asked how much their jurisdiction's youth gang problem has been affected by the return of gang-involved adults who have been in prison.

Survey respondents for 1998 were asked how much their jurisdiction’s youth gang problem has been affected in the past few years by the return of gang-involved adults who have been in prison. Research suggests that involvement of ex-convicts in youth gangs increases the life of gangs and their level of violent crime, in part because of the ex-convicts’ increased proclivity to violence following imprisonment and the visibility and history they contribute to youth gangs (Howell and Decker, 1999). As shown in table 37, the most common response to the question of how much the return of gang-involved adults from prison has affected the youth gang problem within a jurisdiction was “somewhat” (39 percent), followed closely by “very little” (38 percent). Only 10 percent said their gang problem was “very much” affected, and 13 percent said “not at all.”

Table 37: Jurisdictions Reporting Effect of Gang-Involved Adults Returning From Prison on Youth Gangs, 1998

Table 38 shows that based on combined “very much” and “somewhat” responses, the return of gang-involved adults from prison has had the greatest effect on local gang problems in large cities (52 percent) and suburban counties (55 percent). The least effect was reported in small cities (30 percent) and rural counties (35 percent).

Table 38: Jurisdictions Reporting Effect of Gang-Involved Adults Returning From Prison on Youth Gangs, by Area Type, 1998

Table 39 shows that adults returning from prison have had a far greater impact on youth gangs in the West than in other regions. Combined “very much” and “somewhat” responses for the four regions were: West (61 percent), Midwest (45 percent), South (also 45 percent), and Northeast (42 percent).

Table 39: Jurisdictions Reporting Effect of Gang-Involved Adults Returning From Prison on Youth Gangs, by Region, 1998

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1998 Youth Gang Survey
OJJDP Summary
November 2000