City Government Gangs State Government State Politics

Will California’s Gang Intervention Programs Be Slashed?


I have just learned to my dismay that there is a very good chance
that Governor Schwarzenegger’s primary gang violence reduction initiative may be scrapped before the month is out.

The possible cuts that are suggested by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, are laid out in this 28-page report. As you will note, the gov’s gang program is on page 28 of the LAO’s list of chopping block recommendations.

This has LA’s gang prevention/intervention world in a state of upset, and calls and emails are going out from many quarters as I write.

Here’s the full story: As the economy continues to crash and burn,
grant money available to nonprofits that provide gang intervention and prevention services has tightened to the point of strangulation meaning that even such longtime and successful gang intervention programs like Homeboy Industries are struggling to pay bills. (As I wrote yesterday) To make matters far worse, those served by such programs are in increasingly precarious circumstances due to the same worsening economy, so the need for those programs is much greater than usual.

Given all this, it was incredibly comforting to hear that, on a conference call a few weeks ago, a representative of Governor Schwarzenegger’s office said that, even with all the budget hacking taking place, the one thing that would definitely not be touched by those legislative slashers was the governor’s California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program (CalGRIP). (Details here.) The program, which was announced in May 2007, was just too important, assured the gov’s spokesperson. So not to worry. It is safe, safe, safe.

Fast forward to this week and, well, about those “too important” and “safe” thingies? Nevermind.

In a state senate budget committee hearing scheduled for this morning, CalGRIP is going to be discussed for termination (or death, or assassination. Pick your word of choice.)

Yesterday, I spoke to Crystal Taylor who is one of the people at the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office most expert about these issues. Taylor said she gave CalGRIP about a 50-50 chance of being killed. Maybe more.

And if it is killed, what would happen to the grants promised for this coming January to cities like LA, and to programs like Homeboy? Will recipients like these at least get the grants that have been previously agreed upon?

Uh, no. They won’t, said Taylor, who agreed this was a deeply unpleasant scenario. “See the legislature has already picked all the low hanging fruit,” she said. So the LAO had no choice but to recommend anything else that conceivably might be picked.

Bottom line, Cal GRIP will be discussed today, and there will be a cut or don’t cut vote before Christmas. But, for the moment anyway, things are not looking good.


ONE MORE THING: As we all know, Mayor Villaraigosa announced his own gang violence reduction strategy last spring, most of which has yet to be rolled out. One part of his strategy that did get rolled out right away, however, at least in part, is called the GRP (Gang Reduction Program. Can’t somebody come up with the more interesting set of acronyms? Please? Pretty please?).

One part of that GRP that has been up and running is a juvenile reentry program that helps kids to transition successfully into non-gang lives when they get out of County probation camps. The plan is to prevent young men and women from getting stuck in the revolving door that, at present, claims nearly 70 percent of the juveniles we lock up. The available research is pretty definitive about the need for these kinds of strategies to get kids off the repeating cycle.

Thus far, the program looks like it is indeed effective. (Although it is too soon to quantitatively evaluate.)

Only one problem: the city hasn’t paid its GRP providers, like Homeboy, in three months. This is $29,000 per month–times three, or nearly $90 grand—that the programs have been fronting for the city. And no one seems to know when and if that money will ever be paid.

It’s going to be a long year.


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