Los Angeles is home to the largest, most enduring anti-gang program in the country. Homeboy Industries (HBI) and its executive director, Father Greg Boyle, have long received local, national and international attention for their success at helping young adults transition out of gang life into more pro-social behaviors and communities. Despite this acclaim, HBI had never undergone a systematic study to address the question aptly posed by Father Boyle: “We know we are doing good. But are we doing well?”
In May 2008, together with Dr. Todd Franke and Christina Christie, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation provided a grant to conduct the first two years of a five-year evaluation of HBI. From this work, we published a book chapter describing one component of our study in one of the few edited volumes on youth violence with an international focus. We also wrote a paper, currently under review, using our study data to describe the stages of moving from gang membership to a more pro-social lifestyle, and to offer a model for others to test.
This evaluation and the subsequent manuscripts describe the conditions under which both male and female gang members are most likely to successfully transition out of gang life, reenter mainstream community life while not actively abusing substances.
My longitudinal research at Homeboy Industries continues and has received ongoing support from The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and The County of Los Angeles.