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Explaining the Directionality of Gang Violence with Court Records

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Extending networked criminology, this study aimed to explore what court records reveal about the directionality of gang conflicts.


Studies of gang violence typically use police reports to investigate the structure of gang conflict, but overreliance on a singular data source could impede crime control efforts. Controlling for the presence of a civil gang injunction (CGI), the authors used multivariate quadratic assignment procedure regression models to disentangle factors thought to account for structural patterns of gang violence mapped from 933 prosecutions involving 307 gangs associated with violent conflict affecting the City of Los Angeles (1998–2013). Specifically, the authors compared competitive advantage to the explanatory power of turf proximity. One measure of turf proximity outperformed all other explanatory factors – gangs with turf centrally positioned in a turf adjacency matrix were significantly more likely to launch attacks, be victimized, and exhibit the highest levels of imbalance in their violent involvements. Regarding competitive advantage, the number of cliques and level of internal conflict were significant. Finally, being subject to a CGI was associated with initiating violence. This study indicates that court cases offer a feasible alternative to police data when investigating patterns of intergroup street gang violence. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021