Ten years and $100 million later, Los Angeles is more in danger than ever of being overrun by its growing gang scourge. Countless politicians "experts," "czars," plans, reports and committees have failed to solve the problem for one reason: They fail to deal with the real issues connected with gang prevention and eradication.
The following seven-point plan has never been attempted by our city government. It would cost taxpayers virtually nothing and have Los Angeles gang-free in less than three years.
Cut off the future gangster pipeline by providing free, (and no cost to taxpayers) child care to all single mothers under 21 who are employed or enrolled in school.
Young, unwed, poor and uneducated girls bear the majority of future gang members. Statistics prove that educated, employed women don't want to have gangsters' babies. This citywide, free day care could be accomplished by encouraging each of L.A.'s 2,500-plus churches, synagogues, temples and mosques to provide two days per week of free child care to six children each.
Require (and charge for) parenting classes for every parent whose child is convicted of gang-related activity or a felony.
The future of our city is at risk because of a growing epidemic of parental neglect. Making the parents of offending children attend (and pay for) parenting classes would quickly encourage parents to take responsibility.
Organize a parent/student boycott of LAUSD
secondary schools until they are safe, secure and free of
It's an inarguable fact that gangs control a growing number of Los Angeles Unified School District campuses. That's why 15,000 children per year are leaving our public schools. The current superintendent, like his predecessors, refuses to address this issue.Each day of a citywide boycott would cost the LAUSD $45million and nationwide humiliation.
Request a federal takeover of the county's juvenile justice system, specifically the juvenile courts and probation.
Gang members do not see our juvenile courts and detention facilities as a deterrent. Gang members violate their court-ordered terms of probation, and nothing is done about it. The juvenile incarceration facilities are in dangerous, daily chaos. This system returns gang members to the community more lethal than they receive them.
Demand emergency legislation to double the
money and streamline the application process for quality foster homes.
A large percentage of gang members pass through L.A. County's child-care system at one time or another. Good, small foster homes (which receive several hundred dollars per month per child), run by caring families, help prevent future gang involvement. Huge, corporate "group homes" (which receive $6,000 per month per child) are poorly supervised and rip off taxpayers. The children entrusted to them become worse, not better. Making foster parenting more attractive and eliminating large, impersonal group homes should be a top priority.
"Jump out - speak out." We need to initiate a massive public-relations
campaign featuring L.A.'s celebrity community, encouraging gang members
to "jump out" (quit) their gangs.
An estimated 80% of gang members would like to get out, but feel trapped. What's needed is support, guidance and a 24-hour hotline. Gang members wanting to get out would immediately be connected with volunteer mentors who would work with them, one-on-one, to quit the thug life. An additional emphasis of this campaign would be motivating individual community members to speak out strongly to identify gang activity to law enforcement.
Quit expecting the LAPD and county sheriff's officers to single-handedly solve our gang problem. A relative handful of cops cannot do for our county's 9million residents what we fearfully and/or selfishly won't do for ourselves.
If local leaders are not willing to try these gang-prevention steps, then they should call for an immediate transfer to Los Angeles of all U.S. military troops overseas. Because continued refusal to address these gang-prevention issues will result in a growth of L.A.'s gang activity so severe that it will require the same kind of military presence to suppress it that we're currently implementing abroad.
Is this overstating the problem? Definitely not. Just ask anyone who works on the "inside" of this issue (like I do), and they'll tell you the same thing.
Paul D. White
8 March 2008