How do you keep gangs off the streets of L.A.? You could build more prisons. Or you
could take Father Greg Boyle’s advice:
“Jobs, not jails.”
Fr. Greg had been working as a parish priest in the rough Boyle Heights neighborhood
of Los Angeles, and he was tired of burying “kids he loved who were killed by kids he
loved”. Jobs, he thought, might be a better solution than prisons for the violence that had
been sucking kids under.
It was a good hunch: the project that became Homeboy Industries has been going strong
for almost 25 years. Fr. Boyle and the staff of Homeboy – many of whom are former
gang members – offer job training, counseling and community to young men and women
who are at high risk of turning to gangs to fill their needs.
We caught him on the phone about a week ago and asked him about hard work, God, and
redemption. Here’s what he had to say.