WWS Calendar

Lessons from the Field: Kinship as an Intervention

Feb 22, 2017 04:30PM to 06:30PM
Robertson Hall
Open to the Public
Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. (Society of Jesus); Founder and Executive Director, Homeboy Industries

The battle against the recidivism of youthful offenders is one of Los Angeles County’s most difficult struggles. In 2015, The Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Outcomes Study found that one-third of youth on probation from the county’s juvenile delinquency system are re-arrested within a year of their release.

Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. (Society of Jesus), an advocate for formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, will deliver a public talk, “Lessons from the Field: Kinship as an Intervention.”

A native of Los Angeles, Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. In 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. At the time, Dolores Mission was the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called “the decade of death” that began in the late 1980s. He, his parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.

Father Boyle is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, a renowned gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program. Originating in 1988 as a small jobs program, “Jobs for a Future,” as part of the Dolores Mission Church, the organization evolved to become Homeboy Industries in 2001.

An independent nonprofit, Homeboy Industries provides Los Angeles-area former gang members with job training, education, therapeutic and support services, substance abuse treatment and legal assistance, among other services. The organization serves 15,000 individuals annually. In addition, an 18-month program provides full-time employment and job training for more than 200 men and women at a time.

“Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle said. “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

Father Boyle has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation.

Father Boyle is visiting the Woodrow Wilson School as this year’s Judith H. Rawson and Robert Rawson Distinguished Visitor.