Violent Crime

Perspectives on Public Fear of Gang Crime

Jodi Lane
Professor of Criminology and Law, University of Florida

Key Findings

  • People are fearful of crime even when the crime rates are decreasing.
  • White middle- and upper-income residents believed there was an association between Latinos and gang crime.
  • Residents in all neighborhoods associated gang crime with “illegal” immigrants.
  • Residents in the lowest income neighborhood, many of whom had newly immigrated, reported the same concerns of gang violence and trash while also being targets of those complaints.


In the study, “Fear of Gang Crime: A Qualitative Examination of the Four Perspectives,” Lane looks at the different perspectives that attempt to explain public fear of gang-related crime in multiple neighborhoods. Factors include the environmental basis and urban community factors. Lodi analyzed data from a 1997 focus group in Santa Ana, California where residents described their fears of crime and reasons why.

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