“The LA Justice Report,” a collaboration between Witness LA and the non-profit online journalistic upstart Spot.us, just launched the first post in a two part series about gang reduction in Los Angeles. Yours truly is the lead reporter on the project.
After a two-month investigation, the report found that Wendy Greuel’s recent audit of the $26 million Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, though critical, really just touched the tip of the iceburg when it comes to problems with the program.
Though it took weeks and multiple California Public Records Act requests, we acquired a copy of the UI’s 60-page evaluation and found it most revealing. After speaking with the UI head evaluator and two independent evaluation experts, we have learned that UI had a perfectly acceptable methodology in place. GRYD, however, has been hampered by serious bureaucratic blunders, prime among them poorly negotiated contracts that resulted in the loss of a year of data.
But beyond pure evaluation and data-collection screw-ups–of which there have been plenty–the Justice Report discovered gang prevention programs that may be systematically excluding many of the kids that most need their help and intervention programs that are based on a model that has little or no proven success. Further, the programs may fail to emphasize the most basic services that have been shown to help the men and women in LA’s most violent, troubled neighborhoods leave gang life behind.
Part II of the series will launch later this month.