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 Youth Gangs & Drug Dealers Series

In 1989, two gang members from the Birmingham area approached Shelley and asked to be on his show, "Open Mic." They wanted to share their experiences about the myths and realities of gang life and share their regrets over the youth they lost while acting as members of a gang. Ironically, the mother of one of the gang members heard her son on the show and came in the following morning to share her feelings and warnings with other parents.


While the nature of gang life has changed between 1989 and 2023, there are a surprising number of things that are still in common. In fact, you might be surprised to discover the backgrounds of many gang members are not what you think.

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Dr. Shelley Stewart,, The Choice Bus

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National Gang Center
The National Gang Center (NGC) is a project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The NGC is an integral component of the Justice Department’s mission to provide innovative leadership in coordination with federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems to prevent and reduce crime. The NGC disseminates information, knowledge, and outcome‐driven practices that engage and empower those in local communities with chronic and emerging gang problems to create comprehensive solutions to prevent gang violence, reduce gang involvement, and suppress gang‐related crime.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
Gang Violence Prevention

To address youth gangs, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supports a range of programs and activities designed to prevent and suppress gang violence and recruitment.

In FY 2019, OJJDP awarded $7.4 million to support communities as they work to deter and suppress gang activity and provide services and treatment to victims of gang-related violence and crime. OJJDP provided direct funding to support the coordination of gang suppression efforts and activities by prosecutorial and law enforcement agencies; to reduce gang activity by focusing on strategies to disrupt recruitment and incentivize desistance by supporting programs that offer alternative support mechanisms for youth

Gangs in America's Communities

Gangs in America's Communities, Third Edition blends theory with current research to help readers identify essential features associated with youth violence and gangs, as well as apply strategies for gang control and prevention. Authors Dr. James C. Howell and Dr. Elizabeth Griffiths introduce readers to theories of gang formation, illustrate various ways of defining and classifying gangs, and discuss national trends in gang presence and gang-related violence across American cities. They also offer evidence-based strategies for positioning communities to prevent, intervene, and address gang activity. 

New to the Third Edition:

  • A series of new case studies document the evolution of numerous gangs in large cities, including the community aspect, evolutionary nature, and how cities influence levels of violence.  

  • New discussions highlighting the role of social media, insights into how gangs use it to recruit members, and the response from law enforcement.  

  • Current nationwide gang trends are discussed to encourage readers to analyze and interpret the most recent statistics for which representative data is available. 

  • Updated macro and micro gang theories enable readers to explore a recent encapsulation of leading developmental models. 

  • New discussions around female gang members offer readers potentially effective programs for discouraging females from joining gangs—along with highly regarded delinquency prevention and reduction programs that have the potency to be effective in reducing gang crimes among young women.  

  • A comprehensive gang prevention, intervention, and suppression program in Multnomah County, Oregon shows how theory was successfully applied to reduce gang activity in a local community.  

  • New research on “gang structures” and their rates of crime illustrate the connections between violent crimes and the amount of violent offenders within a gang.  

  • Additional discussion of distinguishing features (e.g., typologies) of major gangs, and numerous examples of gang symbols, tattoos, and graffiti has been added to help readers identify and differentiate various types of gangs.



  • Quotes from real-life gang members are threaded throughout the book, providing the reader with a more personal perspective. 

  • Comprehensive coverage of gang origins, definitions, national trends, significance, assessment, and prevention provide readers with a foundational understanding of gangs. 

  • Compelling Case studies demonstrate the practical applications of the theories being discussed and encourage classroom discussion. 

  • Coverage of prison gangs and gender/ethnicity topics differentiates various ways to approach gang related issues such as the unique treatment needs, implications for prevention, and recommended services for female gang members. 

  • All-inclusive survey data published by the National Gang Center presents national and localized perspectives on gang trends, providing insight into topics such as female gangs, migration of gang members, small-town gangs versus the major adult gangs in large cities, gang homicides and drug trafficking 

  • The text covers both basic research (on causes and correlations of gang involvement) and applied research (what works and what doesn’t in combating gangs) to get readers to critically access the unique situation of gang activity within a particular community. 

  • Research summaries and historical perspectives help provide context for the reader and improve their critical thinking skills. 

National Gang Center YouTube Channel
Knowing The Past Opens The Door To The Future: The Continuing Importance of Black History Month

A project to support reductions in gang crime and violence. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NGC and its funders. The YouTube Channel features videos, webinar series, and podcast audio.

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