In this episode of the National Gang Center’s Voices From the Field podcast series, experiences of his decades of working with gang-involved youth in communities impacted by serious gang and gun violence are discussed with Jay Franklin, a gang-prevention and intervention expert from Riverside, California.
Franklin first discusses the nature of outreach work in communities where violent youth gangs are active. He emphasizes the importance of an outreach worker establishing credibility with gang members and youth at risk of joining gangs. This means making it clear by words and actions that the outreach worker is not allied with the police in efforts to target and arrest gang members or undermine gang membership. The actions of outreach workers must be related to bringing awareness to gang members and youth at-risk about how the outreach worker can help them and their family members in accessing community services they may need in the areas of employment, education, health, housing, and other basic needs. The outreach worker must avoid actions and correct community and gang misperceptions that the worker’s purpose is to dismantle a gang by persuading its members to leave the gang or cooperate with police. Franklin argues against outreach workers carrying guns for self-protection.