U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Evolving Patterns of Aggression: Investigating the Structure of Gang Violence during the Era of Civil Gang Injunctions

NCJ Number
Date Published

Mapping the structural characteristics of attack behavior, this study explored how violent conflict evolved with the implementation of civil gang injunctions (CGIs).


Networks were generated by linking defendants and victims named in 963 prosecutions that involved street gangs active in the City of Los Angeles (1998–2013). Aggregating directed ties to 318 groups associated with the combatants, the study compared four observations that corresponded with distinct phases of CGI implementation—development (1998–2001), assent (2002–2005), maturity (2006–2009), and saturation (2010–2013). Using a triad census to calculate a ratio of simple patterns (retaliation, directed lines, and out-stars) to complex three-way interactions, the study observed that CGIs were associated with a substantive thickening of conflict—greater complexity was found in conflict relations over time. Dissecting the nature of change, stochastic actor-oriented models (SAOMs) show that enjoined gangs were more likely to initiate transitive closure. The findings suggest that crime-control efforts must make regular adjustments in response to the evolving structure of gang interactions. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020