L.A. leaders ignore actual gang reform

first_imgTHERE’S just one problem with civil-rights attorney Connie Rice’s proposed “Marshall Plan” to rid L.A. of gangs. It won’t work. Ever. Rice’s report says nothing about the Los Angeles Unified School District’s continued tolerance of gang behavior on its campuses that gives these thug groups a place to plan and recruit. It says nothing about the Probation Department’s severe mishandling of county juvenile halls and camps. This incompetence has created an environment so violent, out-of-control and toxic that juvenile-incarceration facilities are now a place where gangs go to recruit and spread word of their accomplishments and plans. The report says nothing about holding legally accountable the 100,000 gang members’ 200,000 parents who are aiding and abetting their children’s participation in severe criminal activity. It says nothing about Juvenile Court judges’ refusal to enforce the terms of probation that all convicted gang members have, which would quickly return to incarceration those who refuse to obey the law. And the report says nothing about the need for our increasingly cowardly populace to “man up” in their neighborhoods. Neighbors must be willing to identify and testify against local criminals – and quit expecting a handful of cops to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves. A “Marshall Plan” would foolishly spend millions of dollars “creating more jobs” for gang members who are too unmotivated, too immature and lazy, and too drug-saturated to take the countless entry-level jobs that are already available. Millions more would be wasted on more education programs, when countless outstanding education programs in L.A. sit half-empty because these unparented teens are too unmotivated to participate. Is there any proven program for turning around gang members and other high-risk youths that would work for all of Los Angeles? Is there any program that would not cost millions, could be implemented immediately, and would start showing results in less than 30 days? For the last 10 years, I’ve taught at the West Valley Leadership Academy in Canoga Park, an alternative public school for gang members and high-risk youths – the worst of the worst. We hold our students to exceptionally high standards of dress and conduct. We don’t let them get away with any kind of thuggish behavior – even if that means we personally have to endure threats or worse. But getting tough works. Our school has students attending daily within a few days of enrolling. They get employed, as well as clean and sober, and behave perfectly. They take college or vocational classes, get off probation, stop gang and racist activity, and ultimately, graduate to successful careers. What more could you ask? How about the fact that 100 percent of their parents participate in monthly training/education meetings? Our program, and its results, could be in place throughout all L.A. schools and communities within weeks – and without extra funding. All it would require is for those hard-core individuals who are ruining L.A.’s future to swallow their pride and be willing to try something new. I’m not talking about gang members. I’m referring to our local leaders. Paul D. White is the co-founder of West Valley Leadership Academy in Canoga Park.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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