In the 1970s, less than half the states reported gang problems. But by the turn of the 21st century, every state and the District of Columbia were facing this challenge. Helping communities combat gang activity is a major priority for OJJDP, and its Gang Reduction Program (GRP)a $10 million, multiyear initiative (200308) to reduce crime associated with youth street gangs in Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; North Miami Beach, FL; and Richmond, VAhas been a leading initiative to that end. A comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated approach to preventing and reducing gang activity, the program emphasizes addressing the needs of youth and effecting change in families, organizations, and communities.
The program's multipronged implementation approach required community stakeholders to develop local plans to address family, peer, school, and community needs. Next, stakeholders identified local resources that they could use to meet these needs. After these planning objectives had been met, communities could use federal support to enhance delivery of appropriate resources and services to meet the identified needs. In the fall of 2003, OJJDP made a onetime, 5-year, $2.5 million award to each site.
Researchers from the Urban Institute conducted an independent evaluation focused on program implementation and outcomes in each of the four cities. The results of that evaluation will soon be available in an upcoming OJJDP bulletin, Findings From the Evaluation of OJJDP's Gang Reduction Program.
The implementation component of the evaluation assessed the progress of the initiative in each site from its launch in the spring of 2003 through mid-2008. The outcomes component considered the effects of the program in each site from implementation through early 2008 and examined whether each site experienced significant changes in gang-related crime, serious crime, and other outcome measures associated with the goals of GRP. Following are some of the researchers' key findings: