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Cut from the Same Cloth? A Comparative Study of Domestic Extremists and Gang Members in the United States

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly: Volume: 35 Issue: 1 Dated: May 2017 Pages: 1-32
David C. Pyrooz; Gary LaFree; Scott H. Decker; Patrick A. James
Date Published
May 2017
32 pages
This study developed a comparative model that emphasizes explicit, spurious, and indirect linkages between domestic extremists and gang members, and it used national sources of data on domestic extremists and gang membersthe Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97)to compare them across group involvement, demographic, family, religion, and socioeconomic status characteristics.
The study determined that six percent of domestic extremists in PIRUS have a history of gang ties, which constitutes a minimal proportion of domestic extremists and is likely the rare exception among the population of gang members. Gang extremists more closely resemble non-gang extremists in PIRUS than they do gang members in the NLSY97. Although these groups have some similarities, one of the major differences is that gang members are younger than domestic extremists. This likely contributes to many of the other differences between the groups across the life course, including marriage, parenthood, unemployment, and education. Given that the evidence is most consistent with the independence model, further comparative testing is needed before generalizing gang-related policies and programs to domestic extremism. (Publisher abstract modified)