NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 22 Supplement Special Topics

Section 3, Victims of Gang Violence

Statistical Overview

Significant Research

A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) investigation into the prosecution of violent crimes committed by gang members found that prosecutors take many different and sometimes unusual approaches in dealing with witnesses in gang cases, in which witness protection is crucial. Witness protection goes hand in hand with witness cooperation. An NIJ survey of prosecutors showed a consensus among prosecutors that the reluctance of victims and witnesses to cooperate was seen to be based upon justifiable fears of retaliation, victim/witness intimidation, residence in a neighborhood culture that discouraged "snitching," and crossover involvement of victims and witnesses in gang activity (Johnson, Webster, and Connors February 1995).

Victim/witness intimidation both weakens the ability of the prosecution to investigate and present the case and damages the community's confidence in law enforcement's ability to maintain public safety and bring offenders to justice. To ensure the safety of victims and witnesses and to successfully prosecute gang crime, prosecutors are taking many of the following measures:

Promising Practices

In an effort to reassure illegal immigrant victims of gang violence that their victimization would be fully addressed by law enforcement and the criminal justice system, regardless of their citizenship status, and to encourage key witnesses to testify, the Victims/Witness Unit in Shelby County, TN received permission from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to develop and distribute through law enforcement, a photo ID card that identifies them as participants in an ongoing case in the county criminal justice system and prevents their deportation by the INS. As a result, victim advocates are building a greater foundation of trust when they interact with the immigrant community, and more gang violence is successfully prosecuted. Victim Witness Unit, District Attorney's Office, Criminal Justice Center, 201 Poplar, Suite 301, Memphis TN 38103-1947 (901-545-5900) (Blackburn 17 October 1999).

Back to Table of Contents

2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 22.3
Archive iconThe information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.