Gang Violence

June 1, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 20
Has the threat been exaggerated?
By Jane Fullerton Lemons


Clifton “Booney” McFowler, right, an intervention specialist (Cover: Getty Images/The Washington Post/Ricky Carioti)
Clifton “Booney” McFowler, right, an intervention specialist with the anti-gang program BUILD Chicago, talks with Latee Smith, a 16-year-old former gang member who now helps others leave gangs, on June 29, 2017. Experts say gang intervention and prevention programs can play a crucial role in helping young people leave gang life. (Cover: Getty Images/The Washington Post/Ricky Carioti)

Violent crime has been declining nationally since the 1990s, but some communities, including smaller cities, suburbs and rural areas, continue to experience violence caused by street gangs. President Trump has linked gang violence to immigration rates and advocated stricter immigration enforcement as a way to fight gangs. He frequently cites murders and other crimes committed by members of the notorious MS-13 gang, including some who entered the country illegally from Central America. But gang researchers say MS-13 represents only a small portion of the nation's gang problem. Police have used civil injunctions and databases of suspected gang members to fight gang violence, but courts have ruled such tactics are discriminatory and error-prone. Meanwhile, experts say education and job-training programs can be more effective than police crackdowns in curbing gang activity and that intervention programs as early as elementary school can help dissuade young people from joining gangs.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Violence in America
Apr. 29, 2022  Political Violence
Jun. 01, 2018  Gang Violence
Oct. 09, 2015  Fighting Gangs
Feb. 14, 2014  Media Violence
Nov. 15, 2013  Domestic Violence
Feb. 08, 2013  Preventing Hazing
Jan. 06, 2006  Domestic Violence
Oct. 31, 2003  Serial Killers
Sep. 03, 1993  Suburban Violence
Apr. 27, 1979  Violence in the Family
Jun. 05, 1968  Violence in American Life
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Federal Courts
Internet and Social Media
Juvenile Justice
Latin American Conflicts
Organized Crime
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Students and Social Life
Unemployment and Employment Programs
Violence and the Family