‘Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job’: Homeboy Industries and Restorative Justice

23 Pages Posted: 3 May 2011

Date Written: May 14, 2010

Abstract

Homeboy Industries stands in downtown Los Angeles as a beacon of hope for many. Over the past twenty years, Homeboy has developed from humble beginnings into a bustling enterprise consisting of six businesses that include everything from a bakery, cafe, and catering company to landscaping, merchandise, and a printing press. Operating in part as a gang intervention program and in part as a career development center, Homeboy until recently employed over 400 gang members across these various businesses at any given time. The charismatic founder of Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyle, S.J., or “G-Dog” as he is known to the homeboys, has a motto that "nothing stops a bullet like a job." Unlike most businesses, however, the organization's goal is for its employees to move on from gang life and Homeboy Industries to productive careers elsewhere. With its numerous success stories, Homeboy Industries serves as a model of how restorative justice can be implemented in a community. By offering free tattoo removal, employment, vocational training, and, most importantly, kinship, Homeboy Industries provides an opportunity for offenders to reform their lives. While it cannot and does not stop gang violence entirely, Homeboy Industries gives its employees a forum to share their stories, to come to grips with what led them to crime, to discover a "family" that was never available at home, and to realize their potential. Though much of Homeboy Industries' success draws from the warmth and compassion of its founder, the basic structure of Homeboy Industries can be applied and adapted to other cities.

Keywords: Restorative Justice, Homeboy Industries, Hang Violence, Gangs, Los Angeles, L.A., Criminal Law

JEL Classification: K14, L31, I20, M13, Z10

Suggested Citation

Dickerson, Justin, ‘Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job’: Homeboy Industries and Restorative Justice (May 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1827983 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1827983

Justin Dickerson (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

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