Boys & Girls Clubs
Gang Summits and Truces
Emergency Room Intervention and Victim Programs
Gang Members in Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facilities
Intervention programs seek to reduce the criminal activities of gangs by coaxing youth away from gangs and reducing criminality among gang members. These programs, examples of which follow, provide alternative opportunities for youth and apply rehabilitation measures.Detached Worker Programs A significant shift in youth gang program approaches, from prevention by means of community organization to interventions relying almost exclusively on detached workers, occurred in the 1940's with the establishment of the New York City Youth Board (1960). Created to combat the city's growing number of fighting gangs, this city-run program relied on detached workers to transform youth gangs from fighting groups into prosocial ones. Most of the transformation was to be accomplished in the streets where gangs met, played, and hung out. Worker activities included securing health care for gang members, providing employment counseling, doing advocacy work with the police and courts, and taking almost any other action that might transform gang values or lure juveniles away from them (Geis, 1965). Although the program was never evaluated, it served as a forerunner of later detached worker programs. The Boston detached worker program, a communitywide project, consisted of three major program components: community organization, family service, and gang work. For 3 years, staff in the Midcity Projectestablished in the Roxbury section of Boston in 1954worked with 400 members of 21 street corner gangs. In perhaps the most rigorous gang program evaluation ever conducted (Miller, 1962), the project proved to be ineffective. Evaluation of a California detached worker program brought into even more serious question the value of this approach (Klein, 1971, 1995a). The Group Guidance Project, begun in the 1940's by the Los Angeles Probation Department, employed group guidance by street workers in an attempt to intervene in the emergence of African American gangs in South Central Los Angeles. Group activities, including weekly club meetings, sports activities, tutoring, individual counseling, and advocacy with community agencies and organizations, were designed to reunite gang members with their community institutions. Klein (1995a:145) concluded that "increased group programming leads to increased cohesiveness (in both gang growth and gang ‘tightness'), and increased cohesiveness leads to increased gang crime." Based on these results, Klein has repeatedly warned practitioners against any activities that might contribute to gang cohesion, because these might increase gang delinquency (Klein, 1995a).
The Ladino Hills Project, created in East Los Angeles in 1967, was an experiment Klein (1968) designed to test his hypothesis that if gang cohesiveness could be reduced through nongroup (i.e., individual) interventions, then gang delinquency would be reduced. Interventions included job training, tutoring, recreation in established agencies, and individual therapy. Klein's evaluation showed that gang cohesiveness was reduced by about 40 percent, and an overall reduction of 35 percent in gang member arrests was observed, although this was attributed mainly to fewer gang members. However, several years later, the gang reassumed its preproject character. Klein (1995a:147) concluded that "we had affected the [gang members] but not their community. The lesson is both obvious and important. Gangs are byproducts of their communities: They cannot long be controlled by attacks on symptoms alone; community structure and capacity must also be targeted."Although researchers disagree about the effectiveness of detached worker programs (Bursik and Grasmick, 1993; Goldstein and Glick, 1994), it must be concluded that, as a singular intervention, detached workers have not conclusively produced positive results. Numerous reasons have been offered to account for the lack of effectiveness of this strategy. Klein (1971; see also Spergel, 1966) suggested that it was unclear whether these programs were designed to control gangs, treat gang members' personality problems, provide access to social and cultural opportunities, transform values, or prevent delinquency. Conflicting program objectives made evaluation difficult.
In the next "era" of youth gang programming, detached workers were put in vehicles and sent to "hotspots" of gang activity. Philadelphia's Crisis Intervention Network (CIN), established in 1974, pioneered the assignment of gang workers to work in specific areas rather than with specific gangs. They were to patrol hotspots in radio-dispatched cars, attempting to defuse potentially violent situations. Although CIN was not evaluated, it was declared a success by CIN officials, a claim that has been subject to challenge (Klein, 1995a; Needle and Stapleton, 1983; Spergel, 1995).Despite doubts about the success of Philadelphia's CIN, the program was transplanted to Los Angeles (beginning in 1980–81) and named the Community Youth Gang Services (CYGS) program. Like CIN, CYGS used suppression tactics (e.g., dispatching patrol teams in specially marked cars), social intervention efforts, group programming and outings for gang members, and truce meetings (Klein, 1995a). According to Klein, implementation of the program was not successful. Spergel (1986) evaluated the Crisis Intervention Services Project (see also Ribisl and Davidson, 1993), which was implemented in the mid-1980's in a gang-ridden section of Chicago. Spergel (1995:255) described the program as a "mixed social intervention or crisis intervention approach, with strong deterrent and community involvement characteristics." Staff patrolled areas where gang violence was likely to erupt during evening and late-night hours, attempting to mediate conflicts. Intensive counseling was provided to gang youth referred by the juvenile court and to their families. Local neighborhood groups were mobilized and involved in the project. Spergel's evaluation (1986) showed that the program appeared to reduce the most serious and violent crimes, but not overall crime levels. Nevertheless, these were the most encouraging gang intervention results up to that time. Crisis intervention programming as a singular approach using detached workers in an attempt to defuse gang conflicts does not have a stellar performance record. Spergel (1995) contended that a detached worker strategy by itself is inadequate to deal with complex challenges such as remedial education, job preparation and development, and community issues. Thus, the detached worker concept has been expanded over the past 30 years to incorporate other roles (Spergel and Curry, 1990). Most recently, in the Little Village Gang Violence Reduction Program, detached workers were redefined as "community youth workers," who "not only had to develop new quasi-professional skills related to referrals of gang youths to agency services or job placement, but [who] also had to learn to collaborate with police and probation officers in such a way that gang conflict was prevented or at least controlled" (Spergel and Grossman, 1997:462). This broader role appeared to contribute significantly to an overall coordinated program approach (see the Gang Violence Reduction Program for further information on this project). Comin' Up, located in Fort Worth, TX, is a youth gang intervention program developed out of training provided by Boys & Girls Clubs (Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, 1996; City of Fort Worth, 1996) and is based on a Boys & Girls Clubs' gang intervention strategy. All program youth are identified gang members. Needs assessments are made on all referrals by a team comprising project staff, school officials, parents, police, probation officers, and others. In addition to providing alternatives to gang life (especially education and employment) and providing life-skills development, the program works to establish truces among rival gangs and to reduce the incidence of gang violence. One of the program's unique features is the employment of successful clients as outreach workers. Criminal arrest data reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicate a significant decrease in violence in the area served by the project (Parks and Community Services Department, 1997). The program has not yet received an independent evaluation. Homeboy Industries and Jobs for a Futuregrassroots projects supported by the Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA (Gaouette, 1997)provide alternatives to gang life for gang members: jobs that can give them an escape from gangs. Jobs for a Future places some 200 gang members in jobs in the community each year. Homeboy Industries merchandises T-shirts and silkscreens and operates Homeboy Bakeries, which sells baked bread to a commercial baker. Both enterprises successfully employ rival gang members. Proceeds from these ventures fund a daycare center, a homeless shelter, an alternative school for gang members, and a tattoo-removal service. Providing jobs appears to be an effective intervention. In a survey of incarcerated adolescent and adult gang members across the country, Houston (1996) found that gang members viewed job training and jobs positively. Huff's (1998) study revealed that many gang members and nongang at-risk youth who sell drugs would give up selling for reasonable wages (less than $15 per hour), and many indicated that "they would accept far lower wagesnot much more than is currently being paid in fast-food restaurantsif they could obtain a sufficient number of hours per week" (Huff, 1998:7). NCNE (1999:62) contends that "the belief that young people will not accept an entry-level job is a false and debilitating myth." Moore and Vigil (1993:43) reported that job programs in East Los Angeles gang areas that were provided in the 1960's through the war on poverty "without question" reduced gang violence. Once the programs were dismantled, gang violence increased. In his Kansas City study of "dead-end" gang members, Fleisher (1998:214) concluded that the "unlawful-to-lawful shift in income production . . . results in less crime and less serious crime." This conclusion is supported by a detailed review of programs for serious and violent juvenile offenders. Lipsey and Wilson (1998) found that paid employment reduces recidivism among offenders who are not incarcerated.
This replicable model is based on the House of Umoja program and the success of similarly designed neighborhood initiatives in other cities (National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, 1999). In Washington, DC, the faith-based Alliance for Concerned Men, a grassroots organization, was instrumental in establishing a Violence-Free Zone in the Benning Terrace public housing project with assistance from NCNE and the DC Housing Authority. Each of these three components contributed to the effortNCNE provided technical assistance; the alliance carried out grassroots intervention in gang conflicts; and the Housing Authority provided job opportunities such as refurbishing the neighborhood, removing graffiti, and landscaping. Together they constitute the necessary structure for implementing a Violence-Free Zone. HUD and OJJDP are supporting the establishment of Violence-Free Zones in cities such as Dallas, TX; Indianapolis, IN; and Los Angeles, CA.In 1998, NCNE convened representatives of successful grassroots initiatives to identify effective strategies and key elements of community-centered approaches. Entitled "best practices," these are described in detail in an NCNE (1999) publication, which also outlines practical steps in implementing the Violence-Free Zone model, under the following headings:
Confinement in a juvenile correctional facility is a strong predictor of adult prison gang membership (Ralph et al., 1996). Prison gang members, in turn, contribute to the growth of youth gangs. In Chicago, prison gangs were said to exert considerable control over and have influence on street gangs (Decker, Bynum, and Weisel, 1998). "Prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia, and Texas Syndicate originated in prison and now have members on the street. Conversely, most street gangs now have members in prison" (Fleisher, 1995:131). In some cities, local gang activity is being orchestrated from the prisons (National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, 1999). This development makes intervention in the resulting stronger "new breed of gangs" all the more difficult. Older gang members from juvenile correctional facilities and prisons who return to the street "align with neighborhood teenage gang members who are on the street, and form a larger, potentially more dangerous street gang" (Fleisher, 1995:152). Involvement of ex-convicts in youth gangs increases the life of the gangs and their level of violent crime, in part because of ex-convicts' increased proclivity to violence following imprisonment and the visibility and history they contribute to youth gangs (Moore, 1978).Little treatment programming has been developed for gang members in juvenile detention and correctional facilities. Interpersonal skills training appears promising for improving social skills and reducing anger and, possibly, violence among street gang youth in institutionalized populations (Goldstein, 1993). The Aggression Replacement Training (ART) model teaches gang members anger control and other skills and has produced promising results with gangs in Brooklyn, NY, communities (Goldstein and Glick, 1994; Goldstein, Glick, and Gibbs, 1998). The model is being implemented in probation departments and detention centers in 28 counties throughout the State of Washington, in a number of juvenile institutions in the State of New York, and in the Texas Department of Youth (corrections). ART also has been used in community-based programs, such as the Mesa Gang Intervention Project. A variety of gang awareness curriculums are used to help youth avoid gang involvement while they are incarcerated. One of these, Gang Awareness Necessary for Growth in Society, is used in California Youth Authority facilities (Duxbury, 1993). This curriculum has several elements: orientation; program overview; parole and the gang-active person; effects of gang violence; legal aspects of gang involvement; coping, responsibility, and accountability; and family, community, peer, cultural, and individual expectations. Gang problems, correctional agencies' use of risk and needs assessments, and specialized programs to address gang problems in juvenile detention and correctional facilities are being assessed in an OJJDP-funded national survey conducted by the National Juvenile Detention Association. The initial report based on this survey (Howell et al., in press) covers gang problems and interventions in detention centers. Nearly 9 in 10 detention centers reported gang members among their residents. Almost half of the detention centers said that one-third or more of their inmates belonged to a gang. Slightly more than half of the detention centers reported gang-related assaults, almost half reported problems with gangs recruiting members, nearly one-third reported threats or intimidation of staff, and one-fourth reported threats or intimidation of nongang members. Fifteen percent of the detention centers that were surveyed reported that they used no assessment procedures to identify gang members. Less than 2 percent performed a formal risk assessment, screened for classification, or used formal procedures for determination and management of security risk groups. Just 1 in 10 detention centers reported gearing certain programs toward gang members. Slightly more than 2 in 10 centers provided aftercare monitoring and support services for gang members. Aftercare is very important because of the high likelihood that these youth will return to active gang involvement in their communities, perhaps with their reputations enhanced by having served time in confinement. Few of the programs geared toward gang members were deemed effective. On average, only 14 percent of respondents rated their programs "very effective" and less than half rated them "somewhat effective." The most promising programs emphasized correction of educational deficiencies, vocational skills development (apprenticeships), drug abuse/use values and behavior change and treatment, and interpersonal and social skills development. To deal more effectively with gang problems in facilities, juvenile detention and correctional facilities need to use risk assessments at intake, identify gang members, and properly classify offenders for security purposes. Better screening and risk classification of gang members would help protect staff and fellow inmates by giving correctional staff reliable information to classify gang members. Similarly, to achieve the best match between their treatment needs and available interventions, needs assessments should be made for all inmates. Finally, more program development is needed to prevent gang formation, help separate offenders from gangs, diminish the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts in detention centers, and prevent and reduce victimization of staff and fellow inmates. Progress in these areas should help break the cycle of gang members moving from detention centers and correctional facilities to prisons to communities. In an earlier review of correctional programs for gang members, Duxbury (1993) made the following recommendations:
8 See Howell, 1998a:308–310, for a comprehensive approach to preventing and reducing gang homicide that integrates several program components.