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Luis Rodriguez

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The End of the Line: California Gangs and the Promise of Street Peace

California has the worst youth-gang situation in the country. Law enforcement officials claim that up to 250,000 gang members live in the state–almost half of all gang members in the U.S. The gang epicenters are in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet gang violence is also rampant in the rural and suburban areas–including the Modesto/Merced area, where Highway 99 cuts through the “Crystal Meth Capital of the World,” to outlying areas of both L.A. and San Francisco, to the mountains, the beaches, and high deserts. Building more jails and increasing repression have not worked–even Governor Swarzenegger has called for an overhaul of the state’s overcrowded prison system. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court recently declared the state’s racial separation policies in prisons to be unconstitutional. It is time to explore new ideas, awaken new imaginations, and create new pathways for healing.

California gangs, California history, youth, alternative programs

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 32, No. 3 (2005): 12-23.

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