In 1987, OJJDP began supporting a project to design a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent youth gang violence. This project resulted in the development of the Spergel Model of Gang Intervention and Suppression, later renamed the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model. The OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model involves five strategies for dealing with gang-involved youth and their families. The five strategies are
- Community Mobilization:
Involvement of local citizens, including former gang members and community groups and agencies, and the coordination of programs and staff functions within and across agencies.
- Opportunities Provision:
The development of a variety of specific education, training, and employment programs targeting gang-involved youth.
- Social Intervention:
Youth-serving agencies, schools, street outreach workers, grassroots groups, faith-based organizations, law enforcement agencies, and other criminal justice organizations reaching out and acting as links between gang-involved youth and their families, the conventional world, and needed services.
Formal and informal social control procedures, including close supervision or monitoring of gang youth by agencies of the criminal justice system and also by community-based agencies, schools, and grassroots groups.
- Organizational Change and Development:
Development and implementation of policies and procedures that result in the most effective use of available and potential resources to better address the gang problem.
In 1993, Dr. Spergel began implementing the initial version of the Model in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. An evaluation of the program found a reduction in serious/violent crimes, decreased criminal activity and gang involvement by project clients, and increased success in educational and job opportunities (Spergel, 2007).
In 1995, OJJDP tested the Model in five selected sites—Bloomington, Illinois; Mesa and Tucson, Arizona; Riverside, California; and San Antonio, Texas. In the process of establishing these sites, it became clear that to successfully implement the Model, the lead agency and its partner agencies must fully understand the Model, the implementation process, and perhaps most important, the need to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the community’s gang problem. Evaluators of the Model combined the Little Village evaluation with studies of the above five sites. The evaluators assessed program elements, strategies, and operating principles in terms of their importance to successful implementation of the Model (Spergel, Wa, and Sosa, 2006). Unpublished reports for each of the five sites are available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service:
- Evaluation of the Riverside Comprehensive Community-Wide Approach to Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression
- Evaluation of the San Antonio Comprehensive Community-Wide Approach to Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Program
- Evaluation of the Bloomington-Normal Comprehensive Gang Program
- Evaluation of the Mesa Gang Intervention Program (MGIP)
- Evaluation of the Tucson Comprehensive Community-Wide Approach to Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Program
In addition to the original demonstration sites, OJJDP has funded four other initiatives. In 1998, citing evidence that youth gangs were emerging in rural areas, OJJDP developed and funded the Rural Gang Initiative (RGI) to demonstrate the Model in four rural communities.
In 2000, OJJDP began the Gang-Free Schools and Communities Initiative. In this initiative, the Gang-Free Schools Program sought to develop a school component of the Comprehensive Gang Model to develop programs within the school setting and link the school component to community-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression activities. Four Gang-Free Schools sites were funded. Six sites in the Gang-Free Communities Program were given seed money to demonstrate the Model, but they were to leverage local resources more extensively.
In 2003, OJJDP launched the Gang Reduction Program to reduce gang activity in targeted neighborhoods in four cities. The program integrates prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry activities and uses existing community resources to sustain the program.
For more information on these initiatives, please refer to Best Practices to Address Community Gang Problems.
This section provides only a very brief discussion of the Model. For a more in-depth discussion of the Model and information about conducting a comprehensive assessment of the community’s gang problem and developing a plan to implement the Model, please visit A Guide to Assessing Your Community’s Youth Gang Problem and Planning for Implementation.