Critical Criminology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 21–39 | Cite as

Insider Gang Knowledge: The Case for Non-Police Gang Experts in the Courtroom

  • Victor M. Rios
  • Karlene Navarro


Drawing on data from surveys and interviews administered to non-police gang experts, the authors argue that police gang detectives are often erroneous in their definition of gang membership and gang-related crime. Police gang experts often mistake signs of urban youth culture for gang membership and criminal conspiracy. Evidence is presented on the ways in which knowledge about gangs is often determined by the social position of the gang expert. Former gang members and community workers may demonstrate a more nuanced and accurate knowledge of gangs than gang detectives. We see the admission of non-police gang expert testimony to the courtroom as a viable way of countering social perceptions that view aspects of gang membership and racial membership interchangeably and possibly help counter disproportionate prison sentences bestowed upon black and Latino youth.


Police Officer Community Worker Gang Member Expert Testimony Gang Membership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.San FranciscoUSA

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