The rate of gang violence in South Carolina rose nearly 1,000 percent over the past decade, according to a new study reported in the Charleston Post and Courier. The study, prepared by the state Department of Public Safety, charted gang grown in the state between 1998 and 2007. Among other things, the report found that gang activity was not as heavily tied to populated urban areas as might be expected. The study’s authors cautioned that gang activity remains a relatively small contributor to South Carolina’s overall crime numbers, accounting for about 1 percent of the violence reported in the state in 2007.
The study also found that the number of gang murders increased from zero in 1998 to 21 reported in 2007; the number of inmates identified as gang members increased 184 percent from fiscal years 2000 to 2008, with a total of 1,137 gang members in state prisons last year, and gang-related crime is disproportionately the province of juveniles, young adults, males and minorities. Of the 154 gang members implicated in homicides between 1998 and 2007, 61 percent were between 17 and 21 years old, nearly 90 percent were black and 94 percent were men. Of the 48 gang murder victims in that time, 85 percent were black.