The nature of gang violence in Chicago has been changing but policies and practices to address it have not, according to a new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute.
In the report, The Fracturing of Gangs and Violence in Chicago: A Research-Based Reorientation of Violence Prevention and Intervention Policy, leading gang researchers call for a “readjustment” of public policies and dialogue regarding the city’s gangs, drugs and violence, and offer strategies to deal with fragmented gangs and high rates of homicide.
“We should stop scapegoating gangs and focus on the real problem of devastated neighborhoods,” said report co-author John Hagedorn, retired UIC professor of criminology, law and justice and James J. Stukel Fellow at the Great Cities Institute.
Key points from the report, which contains insights delivered by the researchers and street-level experts at the institute’s The Fracturing of Gangs Conference in April 2018 and supplementary post-event research, are:
Persistently high levels of homicide in communities of concentrated poverty
Gangs transforming, but violence prevention and intervention strategies static
Interpersonal conflict a more prevalent reason for violence
The report’s authors call for more resources for housing, health and education, and emphasize the need for political leadership to “rebuild our neighborhoods and provide both increased safety and hope to neighborhoods of concentrated African-American poverty.”
Similar research in the future should aim to examine Latino gangs and to better understand the differences between West Side and South Side gangs, note the researchers.
“There are significant differences between West Side and South Side African-American gangs,” they said. “In addition, Hispanic gangs were not as affected by the diffusion of CHA residents, and as a result, they have not fractured in the same way.”
Report co-authors are Teresa Córdova, director of the Great Cities Institute and UIC professor of urban planning and policy; Roberto Aspholm of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; Andrew Papachristos of Northwestern University; and Lance Williams of Northeastern Illinois University.