Gang Loitering and Race

62 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2006

See all articles by Lawrence Rosenthal

Lawrence Rosenthal

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law


The decision of the United States Supreme Court in City of Chicago v. Morales, which invalidating Chicago's gang-loitering ordinance, provides a road map for future public order laws that can address inner-city crime. This article makes the argument for public order laws as an anti-gang initiative that stops short of an approach dependent on massive incarceration, and defends such laws against an attack on grounds of racial fairness. Relying on the work of leading urban sociologists, the article argues that gang crime powerfully attracts inner city (and disproportionately minority) youth, and that any strategy for crime reduction in the inner city must therefore address its attractions. The article then argues that public order laws can disrupt patterns of drug trafficking that are the lifeblood of inner city gangs, without reliance on a regime of mass incarceration that will have far more disruptive effects on minority youth.

Keywords: gangs, inner-city crime, equal protection, policing, loitering, public order laws

Suggested Citation

Rosenthal, Lawrence, Gang Loitering and Race. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 91, pp. 99, 2000, Available at SSRN:

Lawrence Rosenthal (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

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