SODOM & GOMORRAH: For years, the United States Government has prosecuted drug and gang crimes, and prosecutors have assumed that the two were related. In a new tur war between the Center for Disease Control and law enforcement, the CDC suggests that gang violence stems from other causes.
The CDC report compares gang and non-gang homicides between 2003 and 2008 and concludes that gang-related killings are more likely to be attributed to other causes like retalitory violence. The data was collecte from the National Violent Death Reporting System for Los Angeles, Oakland CA, Long Beach CA, Oklahoma City, and Newark NJ, which all have a high prevalence of gang violence. NVRDS collects violent death information from death reports, medical records, and law enforcement statements.
We should at least be a little cautious when considering the results, since people aren’t likely to be forthcoming about their reasons for killing others. The CDC has in fact questioned the validity of the data in their report, saying that gang homocide case definitions vary depending on who is consulted. Some agencies record any homocide that involves gang members as being a related homocide, while others require gang-related motives.
What’s unique and interesting about the report is that the CDC came up with their conclusion despite the questionability of the data. To the conspiratorial mind, or at least the mind that believes that government bureaucrats don’t waste time on reports that don’t materially benefit them (and also perhaps to James Q. Wilson’s mind), such a report suggests that someone high up in the CDC is engaged in a serious fight with someone in law enforcement. This is a direct shot at somebody with a vested interest in the current process that law enforcement uses to fight the drug war.
The other results were less controversial. Gang homicides are more likely to involve young adults, non-whites, males, and firearms. They are more likely to take place on weekends and be the result of drive-by shootings. In other words, nothing new – except the notable sobriety of the involved parties.