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Policing by Injunction: Problem-Oriented Dimensions of Civil Gang Abatement in the State of California, 1987-2001 (ICPSR 3583)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study examined whether civil gang abatement is consistent with the model of problem-oriented intervention. Civil gang abatement is a legal strategy that employs the civil remedy of the preventive injunction to address persistent public nuisances caused by gangs in specific neighborhoods. This study focused on injunction initiatives, which are efforts by prosecutors to acquire a preliminary injunction against a gang, regardless of the decision by the court. The researcher examined all identified gang injunction cases filed with the Superior Court of California from October 1987 through June 2001. Data on gang activities that led to efforts to obtain injunctions were gathered from court records, and additional data were gathered through surveys of the prosecutors involved in each injunction initiative. Questions in the survey covered the nature of the gang problem, the entity responsible for initiating the effort to get an injunction, specific events that triggered the initiative and influenced it after initiation, the existence of other interventions or programs conducted in conjunction with the initiative, the prosecutors' perceptions of the nature and impact of community involvement, and information on community entities that supported and opposed the initiatives.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Prosecutor Survey Data - Download All Files (4.2 MB)
DS2:  Drug Initiative Data - Download All Files (4 MB)
DS3:  Crime Initiative Data - Download All Files (4.1 MB)
DS4:  Disorder Initiative Data - Download All Files (4.1 MB)
DS5:  Cluster Analysis Data - Download All Files (4 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Allan, Edward L. Policing by Injunction: Problem-Oriented Dimensions of Civil Gang Abatement in the State of California, 1987-2001. ICPSR03583-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2003. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03583.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2000-IJ-CX-0018)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   gang violence, gangs, injunctions, intervention strategies, neighborhoods, program evaluation

Geographic Coverage:   California, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1987-10-26--2001-06-30

Date of Collection:  

  • 2000--2002

Unit of Observation:   Court case.

Universe:   Gang injunction cases filed with the Superior Court of California between October 26, 1987, and June 30, 2001.

Data Types:   administrative records data, survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study examined whether civil gang abatement is consistent with the model of problem-oriented intervention. Civil gang abatement is a legal strategy that employs the civil remedy of the preventive injunction to address persistent public nuisances caused by gangs in specific neighborhoods. Preventive injunctions are court orders that, in the case of gangs, prohibit a specific gang and/or named gang members and associates from engaging in specified activities in a specified area that contribute to a public nuisance. This study focused on injunction initiatives, which are efforts by prosecutors to acquire a preliminary injunction against a gang, regardless of the decision by the court. A preliminary injunction is an interlocutory order granted during litigation to prevent irreparable injury. To fit the model of problem-oriented interventions, injunctions must be (1) flexible, providing a custom response to specific conditions and actors causing a persistent problem at a particular location, and (2) multilateral, involving a partnership between law enforcement and community groups to identify problems and create custom responses to them. The primary objective of this study was to determine the extent to which gang injunctions were flexible and multilateral responses to gang activities. A secondary issue addressed was whether prosecutors used problem-solving methodology, commonly known as the SARA (scanning, analysis, response, and assessment) method, in their efforts to obtain gang injunctions. Problem-solving methodology is also a component of the problem-oriented model of intervention.

Study Design:   The researcher examined all identified gang injunction cases filed with the Superior Court of California from October 1987 through June 2001. Data on gang activities that led to efforts to obtain injunctions were gathered from court records. Specifically, these data were obtained from the provisions of relief requested by the prosecutor. Information on requested relief can be found in three documents in the court files: the complaint, the proposed preliminary injunction, and the memorandum of points and authorities. The complaint was used as the source of the requested relief whenever possible. When the complaint was sealed, missing, did not contain the necessary information, or was otherwise unavailable, one of the other documents was used. The provisions of requested relief are generally contained in enumerated paragraphs, which often group related activities. Each distinct prohibited activity was extracted from the document. Additional data were gathered through surveys of the prosecutors involved in each injunction initiative. Questions in the survey covered the nature of the gang problem, the entity responsible for initiating the effort to get an injunction, specific events that triggered the initiative and influenced it after initiation, the existence of other interventions or programs conducted in conjunction with the initiative, the prosecutors' perceptions of the nature and impact of community involvement, and information on community entities that supported and opposed the initiatives. Newspaper articles were used to fill in the blanks when data were not obtainable from more reliable sources.

Data Source:

Data were obtained from Superior Court case files, a survey of prosecutors, and newspaper articles.

Description of Variables:   The linking variable for all parts of the dataset is the injunction title variable. Variables in Part 1, Prosecutor Survey Data, include injunction category (drug-related, non-drug-related, or other disorder-related), date of filing for preliminary injunction, county of target area, prosecutor's office, associational restrictions requested by the prosecutor, primary gang activity that brought gang to prosecutor's attention, entity initially requesting intervention, problems identified by initiator, action requested by initiator, and primary problem identified by prosecutor. Other Part 1 variables include number of gangs in target area, why named gang was chosen over other gangs in the target area, characteristics of the gang and the target area that led the prosecutor to believe an injunction would be effective, predominant race of gang, number of years the gang had been in the target area, size of gang, number of defendants named in the lawsuit, whether the gang was named as a defendant, who represented the defendants, size of target area, number of target areas, entities that participated in a decision to seek an injunction, whether participants expressed differing views, alternatives to an injunction considered, whether the injunction was part of a larger intervention program, nature of program, intervening incidents that affected the injunction effort, plans for the assessment of the injunction's effectiveness, effectiveness of injunction or temporary restraining order (TRO), whether gang activity was displaced from the target area, type of opposition to the injunction, and the degree of community involvement. Parts 2 through 5 contain data on the gang activities that led to the efforts to obtain an injunction. Each distinct activity was represented as a binary variable. A behavioral index, equal to the total number of prohibited activities for each injunction initiative, was calculated. Indexes were also calculated for the total number of drug-related activities, non-drug-related crimes, and activities associated with disorder but not drug-related or normally considered crimes or ordinance violations. Part 2, Drug Initiative Data, contains ten binary variables on drug-related gang activities and the drug activity index. Part 3, Crime Initiative Data, contains 21 binary variables on gang activities that were non-drug-related crimes and the index for these activities. Part 4, Disorder Initiative Data, contains 23 binary variables on other activities associated with disorder and the index for these activities. Part 5, Cluster Analysis Data, contains the aggregate prohibited activities index, weighted versions of the other three indexes equal to the ratio of each of these indexes to the aggregate index, the z-score of each weighted index, the z-score of each index relative to the mean, and the injunction category.

Response Rates:   Prosecutors of 41 of the 42 (98 percent) injunction initiatives responded voluntarily to the survey.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG3583.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CQ3583.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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