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Gangs and crime

Of the 5,052 gang-related cases brought to the Multnomah County district attorney's office in the past decade, the majority have been solved.

The cases include everything from homicides and shootings to robberies, burglaries, assault and harassment. They do not include federal or juvenile cases.

Several factors explain the significant decrease in caseloads in mid- to late-1990s. The major influences include:

• A U.S. Circuit Court judge's 1993 ruling that the Portland Police Bureau's system of documenting gang members was too broad. With fewer 'gang members' in the system, fewer such cases were brought to prosecution in later years.

• The 1994 federal racketeering law, called the RICO Statute, which allows police to arrest people based solely on the suspicion of gang involvement. Local prosecutors sent hundreds of gang members to prison, decreasing the number on the streets the following year.

• The state's 1994 passage of Measure 11, the mandatory-minimum sentencing law. Officials say the law had a tremendous effect on keeping both violent offenders and would-be victims off the streets for at least five years during the peak ages for gang activity, the late teens to early 20s.

Year Solved Unsolved Total

1993 393 446 839

1994 488 488 976

1995 406 394 800

1996 356 307 663

1997 225 219 444

1998 155 111 266

1999 175 113 288

2000 162 94 256

2001 146 94 240

2002 91 189 280

Solved cases: guilty by plea or trial

Unsolved cases include: dismissal because a witness fled; dismissal because a defendant negotiated a plea in another case; rejection by a grand jury because of insufficient evidence; a defendant was found not guilty; a case is still pending or was not coded as 'gang-related.'

Ñ Jennifer Anderson

Source: Multnomah County district attorney's office