Drugs Not Driving Gang Violence, CDC Says

The popular image of street gang violence in the US as being "drug-related," is largely mistaken, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released last Thursday. Other factors, particularly retaliation for ongoing gang violence, are more likely to be at play, the report said in what is the first study based on the CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System.

dumpster tagged by the 24th Street Crips (wikimedia.org)
The CDC looked at data from 2003 through 2008 to study gang-related killings in 17 states and found the highest rates in five cities: Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland, California, Newark New Jersey, and Oklahoma City.  Those cities had 856 gang-related homicides and 2,077 non-gang killings during the period in question.

In Los Angeles and Long Beach, less than 5% of all killings were related to known drug trafficking or use, while in Oakland, only 12.5% of gang killings involved drugs. In Newark, 20% of gang killings involved drugs, while Oklahoma City came in highest with 25.4%.

The numbers show that even in the city with the highest percentage of gang killings blamed on the drug trade or drug use, only about one-quarter of gang killing revolved around drugs. The numbers are similar for non-gang homicides. "Drug-related" killings accounted for little more than one-fifth of all homicides at most, again in Oklahoma City, at 22.8%, but only 16.5% in Oakland, 6% in Newark, and less than 5% in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

"The public often has viewed gangs, drug trade/use, crime, and homicides as interconnected factors; however, studies have shown little connection between gang homicides and drug trade/use and crime," the report's authors wrote in an editorial note. "Gangs and gang members are involved in a variety of high-risk behaviors that sometimes include drug and crime involvement, but gang-related homicides usually are attributed to other circumstances…. Overall, these findings support a view of gang homicides as retaliatory violence. These incidents most often result when contentious gang members pass each other in public places and a conflict quickly escalates into homicide with the use of firearms and drive-by shootings."

The findings could be important for policymakers as they attempt to grapple with the causes of gang violence and how to prevent it. The report suggested concentrating on preventing kids from joining gangs in the first place and helping at risk kids deal with conflict resolution.

"Violence -- including gang homicides -- is a significant public health problem," Linda Degutis, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a prepared statement. "Investing in early prevention pays off in the long run. It helps youth learn how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and keeps them connected to their families, schools and communities, and from joining gangs in the first place."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The connection?

From where do these gangs get the money for the things that they have? Even if it's not about the drug trade when they kill each other, the means to murder, as well as the means (and the reasons) to recruit more people into a gang and keep them armed and living large must be obtained somehow.

Gangs tend to start in prison

People join gangs in prison for protection. Put less people in prison and there will probably be less gangs. Outside, gangs are kept alive because they're making money. A bunch of guys walking around with nothing to do but be badass is not going to last very long. People have to do something to occupy their time and they also have to make a living (in other words, work). Selling drugs fulfills both purposes (it is a job). The drug war both helps get gangs started and helps keep them alive outside prison. In fact, it hands them an industry and says "here, compete". 

As to the retaliatory nature of most murders, it makes sense that it would be that way, because after a murder has taken place it makes sense to expect there will be a retaliation and then a counter retaliation. Giving people money to fight about is not the best way to make the situation cool down.

Drugs Not Driving Gang Violence, CDC Says

What a bunch of drivel this story is! You would have to be a complete moron to not see the relationship between the failed war on drugs and gang violence. I will go on to state that the biggest reason these gangs even exist is due to prohibition and how that has created the worlds largest prison population right here in the USA. Less than 4% of the worlds people and over 25% of the prisoners. Good old America.

A perfect "real world" example, unlike this piece of fairy-tale trash is this: I own  a real estate investment company and a few years back I was trying to sell a house outside Atlanta in Norcross. I assumed it was a nice part of the metro area when I purchased the home. A  nice Latino lady answered my advertisement and when I informed her where the house was she went off on me big time! She told me that the children in Norcross HAD! to belong to one or the other of the different gangs to just survive going to school everyday. Otherwise they would be beat up just about everyday. She told me story after story of her friends who had moved there and were trying to relocate to a "better" area so their kids could grow up normal. Needless to say this story is just more propaganda by the idiots who are in charge of our country today. The sad thing is that "safe" part of town she was looking for is almost nonexistent now!

All you have to do to see that this story is nonsense is study the other countries like Portugal who decriminalized drugs over 20-years ago and see what has happened there. I'll give you a hint: crime went waaay down, childhood drug use did too, the prison population dropped dramatically and more importantly the citizens who were victims of this misguided government policy might actually have a chance in life now. Oh, did I mention the costs to pay for all that "prohibition" plummeted? 

The cx between drugs and

The cx between drugs and crime have long been overblown.

Ronnie's comment



Can you reply to Ronnie's Comment DRCNet please

I was also shocked and disbelieving of this piece of CDC research..Who funded it;l do we know?

Looking forward to reading your reply

Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt MSc


Highest part of people in prisons

For a start usa could ban weapons, times of wild west or protection against bears wolves are far in the past. Better blame weapons right for nearly everyone then using drugs for most of violence, in streets and at home.

gangs must go...

Kids join gangs because their own families do not want them; they join to have a "sense of beloonging...Gangs are very very bad and the gov. should do more to dismantle them...because they endanger Citizens safety; petty crime...

just say no...

Gangs are stupid; a stupid way to live; letting other people corrupt you and ruin your sense of morals and life!

But drugs when abused,

But drugs when abused, whether legal or illegal can really harm our bodies and with our kids, I believe the effect is worse.

I think I figured out the problem with the report

I've been trying to understand the report, and it seems that the report actually only looks at the very incident of the homicide, hardly at all looking into the motive of the homicide. What it describes is two things: demographics and "incident characteristics". The type of data collected all are descriptions of the incident itself, not of the motive. Incident characteristics include: 

"weapon: firearm, other, unknown"; 

"location of injury: residence, street, other, unknown"; 

"time of injury: day, afternoon/evening, night, unknown";  

"day of injury: mon/tue/wed, thu/fri, sat/sun, unknown"

"drive-by shooting: yes, no/unknown" Notice, by the way, that all unknowns from this point forth are lumped in with no's.

"any argument: yes, no/unknown"

"crime in progress: yes, no/unknown"

"drug trade/use: yes, no/unknown"

"bystander death: yes, no/unknown"


So what the report actually shows is that at the very time the homicide was being committed, they were not usually selling or using drugs AT THAT TIME (DURING THE INCIDENT). All this report describes are the moments when homicides take place, and it seems that most of the time people aren't also selling or using drugs at the same moment (or actually, KNOWN to have been selling or using drugs at the same moment) as they were committing the homicide.

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