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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Life on the Line: An Exploration of Street Outreach and Gang Prevention and Intervention Work in Los Angeles

  • Author(s): Bradstreet, Charlotte Elizabeth
  • Advisor(s): Currie, Elliott P
  • et al.

In spite of overall crime declines, gang violence remains a serious problem in many large cities. This is particularly true in Los Angeles, where youth are five times more likely to be in street gangs compared to their counterparts living elsewhere. Agencies use a variety of approaches to combat the gang problem. Research indicates these methods include various suppression, program, and street outreach efforts, and there is certain rhetoric about the importance of collaboration across various entities in these endeavors. What is less explicit in the literature is a discussion of how gang prevention and intervention work, particularly that driven by street outreach organizations and individuals, actually occurs in practice. This project is a qualitative case study of one such effort in Los Angeles. Using participant observation and in-depth, semi-structured interviews, this study provides a close look at who these street outreach interventionists are; the types of tasks they perform on a daily basis and the ways they interact with other key players in this effort; the individual qualities necessary to carry out these responsibilities; the obstacles and challenges to prevention and intervention work; the host of identified needs for the continuation and expansion of street outreach efforts; and various implications of these findings.

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