By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer
Social Welfare professor, Jorja Leap has recently gained national media attention for her expertise in gangs and criminal justice. Her research is based on observation of gangs and communities affected by gang activity with the purpose of informing policymakers.
Leap’s work and findings have been cited in articles about different criminal trends in Los Angeles and on a national level, such as the decline in homicides in LA, homicides of Latino men, and their relationship to gang activity.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News reported that homicides in Los Angeles have declined from 1,231 in 2002 to below 700 in 2010. According to the article several sociologists and police workers attribute the decline to gang intervention programs and more effective policing and legislature, but Leap said the problem has not necessarily been solved.
Instead, a police crackdown in Los Angeles has moved gang activity from LA to economically depressed areas such as the Inland Empire and Las Vegas, where they are less impeded, she said in the article.
Another article by the LA Daily News titled “ Homicides of young Latino men twice as likely to go unsolved in LA county, analysis shows,” focused on the reasons why homicides of Black and Latino populations are not only higher but less likely to be solved.
Leap attributed that discrepancy to Black and Latino men living in areas that are more high in crime and gang activity, where illegal weapons are more accessible. She also said that witnesses’ fear of retaliation if they speak may contribute the the cases remaining unsolved.
Professor Leap was also quoted in a Detroit News article about a former motorcycle gang member currently on trial for a series of crimes and murders across the country. She offered insight into the lifestyle of motorcycle gang members and the criminal justice process.