The innovative program that is turning young lives around.
Rehabilitation programs hold the key to curbing gang-related crime and saving taxpayers thousands of dollars, according to the experience of Los Angeles crime fighter and Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle.
Father Boyle is the founder of the Homeboy Industries, which is the largest gang member rehabilitation program in the United States and has become a model for other organisations and cities.
He is in Australia on speaking tour sponsored by Australian Catholic University (ACU) called ‘Jobs Not Jails’ to share how since 1988, Homeboy Industries has changed the lives of more than 12,000 ex-gang members a year by providing them with employment and training opportunities.
Homeboy Industries says fewer than three in 10 of teenagers who have engaged the organisation’s program have reoffended.
Speaking ahead of his first free talk in Melbourne at 6pm Monday 4 August 2014 at ACU’s Daniel Mannix Building in Fitzroy, Father Boyle said rehabilitation programs like those run by Homeboy Industries deliver huge social and economic benefits to the community.
“The social and economic costs of incarceration are astronomical compared to the funds needed to provide proper rehabilitation, employment and training services,” Father Boyle says.
“In the United States, the estimated cost of juvenile detention per detainee is between $100,000 to $150,000.
“For less than 50 per cent of that amount, Homeboy Industries rehabilitates approximately 12,000 per year.”
“Our experience is that by providing hope and opportunities, we can reduce crime, save taxpayers’ money and help thousands of people to turn their lives around.”
Father Boyle’s dedication to finding a place in society for everyone brought him to the Boyle Heights community of East Los Angeles, where he served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church from 1986 to 1992. It was there that he started what would become Homeboy Industries, now in its 26th year.
His organisation primarily works with young people who have served prison time and those involved in gangs. Of these, 100% are low income, more than 90% are Hispanic, Latino or African-American, the vast majority have post traumatic stress disorder or complex trauma, many were abused or abandoned as children, all have been witnesses to serious violence, and most are at about a first-to-third-grade reading level.
Jobs Not Jails: Father Greg Boyle talk and Q&A session
Melbourne: Monday 4 August, 6pm DMB Philippa Brazill Lecture Theatre, The Daniel Mannix Building, ACU, 8-18 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Canberra: Tuesday 5 August, 6.30pm King O’Malley’s, 131 City Walk, Canberra