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Gang Members in Small-town and Rural Communities

NCJ Number
Adam K. Matz, M.S.; Mary Ann Mowatt, M.S.
Date Published
7 pages
This article briefly reviews what is known about gangs and gang members in rural communities and small towns, based on the empirical literature.
At the time of Wilson's (2008) systematic review of gangs in rural areas, only nine relevant empirical studies were available; consequently, the prevalence and activity of rural youth street gangs has not been adequately studied. Neither has the response to gangs in rural areas or small towns been adequately documented; however, there is sufficient information to determine that there are some distinct differences as well as many similarities between rural/small-town gangs and urban gangs. Law enforcement agencies in rural areas should assess whether there is a significant gang threat in their jurisdictions before launching any large-scale interventions. If the gang threat is determined to exist, multiagency collaboration among justice agencies, community-based, and faith-based organizations and private businesses can be mobilized in rural areas just as has been done in proven urban interventions. Jurisdictions seeking guidance on gang issues should consult the Comprehensive Gang Model (Howell & Eagley, 2005; OJJDP, 2010), the Bureau of Justice Assistance's SARA model (Scanning, Analysis, Response, Assessment), and the American Probation and Parole Association's C.A.R.E. (Collaboration, Analysis, Reentry, Evaluation) framework. 5 notes