May 15 2007

Gangs and Social Welfare in LA

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Gangs EventGUESTS: Bo Taylor of Unity One, Dr. Jorja Leap, UCLA Department of Social Welfare, Gang Policy Advisor to Mayor Villaraigosa

Before Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cut short his trip to Mexico earlier this month, he visited with President Antonio Saca of El Salvador to promote law-enforcement cooperation to counter the influence of transnational gangs. The two came to an agreement that the Los Angeles Police Department would train El Salvador’s police forces in gang enforcement and prevention. The announced transnational accord followed last month’s State of the City address where Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled his strategy to combat gang violence in Los Angeles. In his speech, the mayor outlined a plan to allocate $168 million dollars for enforcement and prevention programs. Targeted zones in the city would see a twin influx of anti-gang enforcement measures alongside economic development programs and intervention efforts. However, Connie Rice, Director of Advancement Project Los Angeles, and a consultant hired by the city, has issues with the mayor’s plan. According to her all but $15 million of the new funding constitutes money already being spent on such programs, which clearly haven’t worked well enough. And of the new money, only a small part is for non-police intervention and prevention services that Rice considers essential.

This evening there will be a “Community and Policy Challenge Roundtable Discussion” on Social Welfare and Gangs at UCLA, from 6-8:30 pm at 100 Moore Hall, UCLA campus.

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One response so far

One Response to “Gangs and Social Welfare in LA”

  1. decline to stateon 15 May 2007 at 12:36 pm

    In regards to a comment regarding whether or not gang crime is on the rise or not, I’d like to say that I agree with Dr. Leap regarding statistics and their accuracy or lack there of.

    As someone who lives in a gang injunctioned community (Northeast LA), the truth about the statistics is this:

    Many, many gang related crimes go unreported. Read that again. Many people within the communities affected by gangs refuse to report crime because of the very real threat of retaliation (something I have lived through first hand).

    So it’s very difficult to say whether or not there is a “boom” in gang related crimes, or if there is actually a decrease. As someone who lives this reality every day, I think if there is a seeming decrease, it is because the people of the communities have given up reporting crime.