This Fact Sheet discusses the results of a study of youth gang homicides in U.S. cities in the 1990's.
As used in this report, the word "gang" refers to "youth gangs," and the term "gang homicides" refers to incidents that involve gang members as victims and/or offenders. The study combined results from multiple years of National Youth Gang Surveys and previous law enforcement surveys of gang activity in general and gang homicides in particular. From the early to mid-1990's, the total number of gang homicides reported in more than 400 cities decreased 15 percent; however, Los Angeles accounted for 29.7 percent of the 256-homicide decrease nationwide from 1991 to 1996. The number of cities with decreases in gang homicides during this period was counterbalanced by a similar number of cities with increases. For the later 1990's comparison, data from the 1996, 1997, and 1998 National Youth Gang Surveys were analyzed. This involved data from 1,216 cities with populations greater than 25,000 that reported on gang problems and gang homicides between 1996 and 1998. Relatively few cities reported large numbers of gang homicides. From 1996 to 1998, 88 percent (383) of the 436 responding cities had a maximum of 1-10 gang homicides in any single year; 10 percent (45) cities) reported a maximum of 11-50 gang homicides; and 2 percent (8 cities) had more than 50 gang homicides in any of the 3 years. The trend in cities with the most gang homicides overshadows the patterns in cities with low numbers of gang homicides. Los Angeles, Calif., and Chicago, Ill., stand out among cities with the highest rates of gang homicide. In 1998 Los Angeles reported 173 gang homicides, and Chicago reported 180. Both cities reported substantial decreases in gang homicides from 1996 to 1998.
Date Published: March 1, 2001