Jorja Leap could write a book on her work as a gang expert extraordinaire, citing statistics about probation, parole and recidivism from her longitudinal studies of Homeboy Industries and other gang-intervention programs aimed at giving the 80,000 members of L.A.’s estimated 1,200 gangs a new start. She could write about her high-level posts as a gang policy adviser to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and the National Institute of Justice, to name just a few. An adjunct professor of social welfare since 1992 in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, she could write a scholarly book, an educational book.
Leap has written a book, but "Jumped In: What Gangs Taught Me About Violence, Drugs, Love, and Redemption" (Beacon Press) sprints way past scholarly and educational, aiming for the outright transformational. And it’s not gang members she is looking to transform as much as the rest of us, far removed from a world where a child or teenager is killed by gunfire every three hours and homicide is the leading cause of death for young African-American males.
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