NORTHRIDGE, CA — For more than 30 years, Homeboy Industries and The Anti-Recidivism Coalition in Los Angeles help former gang members and inmates by providing tattoo removal services, general education classes, and jobs.
The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) in L.A. is a support network for formerly incarcerated men and women. Employees talk to inmates while they are inside so that when they get out they already have a network. The ARC provides clothes for inmates, if they need them or have an interview. The ARC is an inclusive and comfortable space for former inmates to interact and stay off the streets. Some members and employees get the opportunity to go on retreats and get out of the city. Allowing time to focus on their future, learn new skills, set goals, and relax.
Adrian Vasquez is a Job Developer, In-Take Specialist at the ARC. He was incarcerated and took courses at a community college. Vasquez understands the lack of resources and wants inmates to have and participate in trade and rehabilitative programs.
Husband and father of six, Larry Butler started his own cleaning business. After serving nine years he could not find a job to support his family. He cleaned at the prison and started a residential and commercial cleaning business. Butler believes the support from his family and self-determination is the reason he was able to start the business. Butler struggled with reentry, and he lived in a small town that did not have nearby resources like Homeboy Industries or the ARC. Looking back he believes inmates need to be prepared for reentry.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission found within two years after being released nearly half of former inmates go back to jail for another offense or a violation of their parole. Dr. Allen Lipscomb helping to start up a men’s transformation program in South L.A. He works in the Social Work Department at California State University, Northridge. With the new transformation program Dr. Lipscomb plans on bettering the community. He said, “If we help mitigate the recidivism rates if we mitigate the pipeline trajectory not only are we saving funds we’re saving lives.”
Homeboy Industries in L.A. gives gang-involved men and women free services. Not all members have been in prison or jail. Homeboy Industries has an 18 month program that employs more than 200 men and women helping them re-identify themselves in the community. Homeboy Industries manufactures food like chips and salsa, and baked goods. Homegirl Cafe is a place where L.A. residents go to buy coffee for their day, or sit down and eat. Member, Ruth Butler plans on becoming an OBGYN. For her Homeboy Industries is a place to ask for help, she said members “have assistance with counselors, case management, sometimes you just need to relax your mind and they give you that.”
Carlos Caballeros used to sell drugs, and when his step-father told him about Homeboy Industries he was hesitant. Caballeros is 20 years old and has a son and recently graduated from community college. He is in the 18 month program and gives tours to visitors he questioned where he would be without Homeboy Industries. During the tour he explained his growth since he’s been at Homeboy Industries, “I never liked to talk to people, I was always quiet, but now I’m a public speaker and I give tours to strangers.”
The Washington Post reported that the United States has the highest prison population in the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 2.3 million people in the U.S. are incarcerated.
By Lauren Turner Dunn
Contributions from, Homeboy Industries, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Sentencing Commission
Photos, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Homeboy Industries
Video, ABC News