This introductory chapter examines the recovery from gang life of former gang members who operated in Los Angeles—the epicenter of the American gang problem. It explores how the recovery is centrally organized by religion and gender, arguing that religious practices shape the discursive and embodied negotiations that reformulate Chicano gang masculinity and socially reintegrate men away from the street and into the household. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies around the country have reacted aggressively by pursuing mass-arrest “suppression” tactics and promoted legislation aimed at deterring gang crime through intimidation. Amid the tide of increasingly punitive gang ordinances, support has simultaneously grown for community-based social programs that humanize gang members and attempt to meet their needs. The chapter briefly explores the various large gang intervention programs instituted by local groups and how they come into conflict with the reformist crime policies of law enforcement.
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