Study finds link between gangs, homicide rates in L.A. County

3:00 PM | March 11, 2009

Ari B. Bloomekatz, LA Times

A study published this week by a Charles Drew University researcher shows that the geographic density of street gangs — and their long-term historical and cultural neighborhood ties — was a greater determinant of homicide rates than factors such as poverty or unemployment.

Researcher Paul Robinson examined all 10,880 homicides throughout Los Angeles County between 1994 and 2002. The study was published online in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine.

“The study found 3.4 homicides per square mile in neighborhoods without significant gang involvement where more than 4 million people lived. On the other hand, the study found 61.1 homicides per square mile in neighborhoods with 30 or more gangs in a two-mile radius,” researchers said in a statement released by the South Los Angeles university. “These gang-plagued areas were home to about 460,000 persons, but contributed a disproportionate share of homicides,” the statement said.

Robinson argues that gang density is an issue of public health and that combating the problem requires additional employment assistance for young men in those communities and more funding for gang intervention programs, among other steps.

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