Los Angeles is sometimes called “the gang capital of the world,” and for communities of color in East L.A., gangs are an issue known all too well.
Now advocates are working to change that by fighting back against the gang violence and mass incarceration plaguing their neighborhoods.
Father Gregory Boyle of Dolores Mission Church started @homeboyindustries in 1988 to help former gang members break free from the cycle of violence.
By providing rehabilitation services such as tattoo removal, substance abuse counseling and workforce development, Homeboy Industries helps former gang members and former inmates reintegrate into the community.
“We work with a population that nobody desires to work with, and it’s a principle of this place that we stand with them,” he said.
Studies show reintegration programs can help reduce reoffense rates by 10% to 20%, causing the national return-to-prison rate to drop from 30% in 2005 to 20% in 2012.
In 30 years, Homeboy Industries has helped 7,000 community members, and the group’s model has served as a blueprint for more than 400 organizations worldwide.