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Programs and Strategies

In the sections that follow, gang programs and strategies are described in seven major categories: prevention, intervention, suppression, programs using multiple techniques, multiagency initiatives, comprehensive approaches to gang problems, and legislative approaches. When available, evaluation results are presented.

Early in the Nation's history, youth gang work emphasized prevention. These programs were followed by interventions designed to reintegrate particular gangs into conventional society using "detached workers" (agency representatives dispatched from their offices to work directly with gangs in the community). Detached workers were sent out in automobiles to intervene in crisis situations. A major shift then occurred as programs, led by the police, sought to suppress youth gangs, buttressed by enhanced legislative penalties for gang crime. Currently, a mixture of approaches is being tried across the Nation; however, programs that integrate prevention, intervention, and suppression activities are gaining popularity.

This Summary includes multiple techniques that some jurisdictions use to achieve prevention, intervention, and suppression program goals—such as providing alternatives to gang involvement while employing suppression to make gang life unattractive. Other jurisdictions incorporate multiagency suppression initiatives involving several law enforcement agencies, perhaps in multiple jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions are taking a comprehensive approach by integrating prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies. Finally, some jurisdictions attempt to suppress gangs by passing legislation or city ordinances prohibiting gang involvement or directed toward specific crimes.


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Youth Gang Programs and Strategies
OJJDP Summary
August 2000