Jumped in: what gangs taught me about violence, drugs, life and redemption by Jorja Leap
Jorja Leap, a UCLA researcher with a Ph.D in gangs and violence, devotes her professional life to understanding Los Angeles gangs, with the goal of reducing violence and saving lives. Working with current and former gang members, community activists, LAPD, social workers, a priest and others, she explains the origins, organization and shifts in gang culture including the rise and spread of Latino gangs in particular from LA through Mexico and Central America. Her personal life is also closely connected to her work, as she is married to an LAPD commander. Juggling work and home life, Jorja becomes enmeshed in the lives of young adults trying to leave gang life, often with the help of Father Greg Boyle. Father Boyle runs Home Boy Industries and Home Girl Café to give former and current gang members jobs. As time passes Jorja sees the hold drugs take on many of the gangs, both in dealing and using, but maintains hope for the future. Dr. Leap goes behind headlines in her description of her work, making many of the gang members people about whom the reader begins to care. She paints a “warts and all” picture of both the good guys and the bad guys of the gang situation in Los Angeles. This nonfiction book reads like a thriller, pulling in the reader to be engaged in real life issues.
How to succeed in leaving gang life by Jorja Leap
Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson