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Report on Youth Gang Violence in California

NCJ Number
Date Published
127 pages
This report focuses on gang characteristics, means of gang identification, and methods of preventing or diverting gang violence in California.
Approximately 756 youth gangs with an estimated membership of approximately 52,400 were identified by a task force. Crimes attributed to these gangs range from vandalism to homicide. A youth gang is defined as an organization of individuals normally between the ages of 14 to 24 years old. Youth gangs are usually organized along ethnic lines and are comprised of Asian, black, Hispanic, or white groups, with the majority of gangs either black or Hispanic. Graffiti, hand signals, and tattoos are used to signify membership in a gang and to communicate gang affiliation to others. Because the youth gang problem takes various forms in individual communities, the task force maintains that no single solution exists which may be applied uniformly throughout California. This report indicates that several criminal justice agencies and community groups have established programs, which may be adapted to address individual community needs. The report lists the programs and presents a series of recommendations regarding the direction the law should take to assist criminal justice agencies with this problem. Appendixes provide additional information on membership affiliation. Photographs, figures, and tables are included, (Author abstract modified)