Effect of Gang Injunctions on Crime: A Study of Los Angeles from 1988–2014


In the early 1990s, Los Angeles gangs were at an all-time high -- there were more than 1000 homicides per year, and individuals openly participated in illegal activities. Up until that point, the only legal action taken against gangs was pressing criminal charges, but in a novel change of tactics, the L.A. Attorney’s Office decided to instead file civil injunctions against gangs, under the argument that they were a public nuisance.

Almost 30 years later, a paper led by Greg Ridgeway, in conjunction with PISC Executive Committee member John MacDonald, has examined the trend of gang violence in Los Angeles ever since the shift in legal prosecution of gangs, and found that civil injunctions actually represent a powerful place-based intervention strategy for police and prosecutors -- the study found that total crime was reduced by 5% in the short-term and 18% in the long-term, most of the effect coming from reductions in assaults.

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