Adolescent gang members and mental health


Youth gang members as a whole display a greater level of anti-authority than either peripheral youth or non-gang members. Gang-affiliated youth are often outside the bounds of the traditional mental health services and have particular needs. Because of the increased risk to exposure to violence, these youth have increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

There are high levels of mental health disorders within the juvenile detention population as a whole, estimated to affect between 40–70%, including psychotic disorders, mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorders.



The El Cajon Shooting May Be Yet Another Sign Police Need Better Mental Health Training | Huffington Post


Making situations even dicier, standard policing techniques can backfire when used in interactions with people with mental illness. Pointing a gun at a suspect or yelling can be “like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,” Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told The Washington Post.

READ FULL ARTICLE: The El Cajon Shooting May Be Yet Another Sign Police Need Better Mental Health Training | SOURCE: Huffington Post

Top 10 Necessary Changes To Police Departments Around The Country | HuffPost


1. Hillary Clinton’s comments make sense on the use of deadly force, but universal guidelines on the use of force are only as good as the police officers who implement them. Not enough.

2. We need to find the racists, narcissists and sociopaths before—not after—we hire them, and give them a gun, a badge and a license to arrest, maim or kill, under the color of law. Hence, we need universal, stringent testing guidelines on the selection of candidates for police departments around this country.

3. Many of these police shootings are rooted more in fear, with racism as a possible root of that fear of African Americans. If so, that fear has no place on our police forces around the country. Racists, cowards, or racist cowards need not apply. Racists, cowards, or racist cowards who happen to be on police forces need to go.

4. Routine police stops should not turn into homicide scenes: a busted tail light or traffic violations require low level interaction, and not over-policing that escalates into violence or the use of deadly force.

5. The youngest and least educated person in the criminal justice system is the most powerful person making initial decisions on the street: the police officer. He or she can arrest, maim, kill or otherwise, on the street, under color of law. We need to change that narrative: why not require officers to have college degrees? Most police officer positions only require high school diplomas. And some require no educational degrees or diplomas.

6. Discharging your weapon and killing a civilian without justification, on purpose or by mistake in judgment, should cost a police officer something—pay, position, permanent reassignment of duties, suspension, expulsion, criminal conviction…something. Right now it varies by jurisdiction.

7. The officers bill of rights in several jurisdictions should be modified to require a police officer to provide a statement immediately after the shooting of a civilian.

8. We have too many police departments (18,000). These departments can be under-resourced, undertrained and undermanned. Reduce this number by half and set up regional police departments with additional resources and superlative training facilities with federal, state and local funds.

9. Police departments should have a real, defined, courageous, brave, community discussion on race and class, on a regular/monthly basis, in their respective jurisdictions.

10. Stop gratuitously hurting and threatening citizens in communities of colors and peers in the halls of justice. Stop being afraid of us, because of some preconceived racial notion. Stop thinking of us and treating us or referring to us as mopes, perps, dogs and animals in the halls of your police departments and DA’s offices.

FULL ARTICLE: Top 10 Necessary Changes To Police Departments Around The Country | Source: Huffington Post

Shoot to Kill: Why Baltimore is one of the most lethal cities in the U.S.


Quinzell Covington went on a shooting “caper” for the first time in the late 1990s with his cousins and friends. The tough guys who raised him in ways of the streets pulled the trigger that day. Afterward, over Chinese takeout, Covington tried to ingratiate himself with the crew by declaring that their victim got what he deserved.

He was about 13 years old. Growing up, he knew it was wrong to shoot a man. Still, Covington said, he didn’t feel remorse. What he did feel was that his crew had newfound respect for him.

By 15, he was the one doing the shooting. Over the next dozen years, Covington learned to do it well. He used 9 mm guns that held 16 bullets and Mac-10 submachine guns. He lured victims to his turf, where he could scout for witnesses and surveillance cameras, in what he called his “Miranda check” — a macabre reference to the right to remain silent.

He also knew where to aim.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:  Shoot to Kill: Why Baltimore is one of the most lethal cities in the U.S. Source: Baltimore Sun

When childhood innocence and gang violence lived side by side in Boyle Heights – by Hector Becerra / LA Times


In the 1980s, my boyhood best friend in Boyle Heights and I chatted about gangs. Particularly about starting one.

The idea was absurd since me joining a gang was a little like Potsie from “Happy Days” driving south of the border and becoming a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. It wasn’t in my hard-wiring, nor did my life experience lend itself to me going from a bookworm to “Smiley,” vato loco at large.

But there was something almost approaching mainstream about gangs a generation ago. Starting even something that weakly mimicked a gang — minus the hardcore commission of crimes, getting shot at and arrested — didn’t seem like the craziest thing ever. At the time, gang members didn’t try very hard to hide the fact that they were gang members. They hung out in corners and on stoops, and advertised their loyalties with tattoos inked to their visible skin like NASCAR racers.

Gang members were part of the scenery, like the shrubs finely coated by the freeway emissions from the nearby East L.A. interchange.

My friend Jesse recalled that he, his uncle and a couple of other kids from the neighborhood formed a group called the Rebels.

“We would have never formed that group if there were any real gang around us,” he said. “I think it was more like an identity for the group…. It didn’t last very long. Once we heard there was a club called the Rebels out of Rosemead and they were going to come down and kick our asses.”

But in fact, there were real gangs around us. They just hadn’t fully breached the core of our particular little neighborhood on Pomeroy Avenue, just a block from L.A. County-USC Medical Center. The closest we had to a resident gang in the 1980s were the Lord Boys, named after Lord Street — “altar boys in comparison to some of the killers running other streets and blocks … beyond the wall,” Jesse recalled.

Read Full Story Here:  When childhood innocence and gang violence lived side by side in Boyle Heights – Source: LA Times

The Myth Of The Angry Black Woman


When I was a child, my grandmother warned me repeatedly, “You can’t be like everyone else. You can’t do what everyone else does. You can’t get away with what other people get away with ‘cause you ain’t like everybody else.” I never really understood what that meant until I became an adult and someone called me “angry” for the first time.

Having been taught, like so many of my peers, that anger is bad, wrong and I am not entitled to feel it, I defended myself against the accusation, denying the anger as well as the hurt, pain and confusion I was experiencing. Reared in a childhood that was one step above poverty, being shuttled from one family member to another (with my deceased mother’s Social Security check attached to my name), being sexually violated at age 9, and pregnant and abandoned at 14, I had a right to be angry with a number of people — including myself.

However, because unlike other people, I could not have an authentic emotional experience, feel or express it, I denied my physical and emotional reality. I was a black woman, burdened by dehumanizing stereotypes, laboring under familial expectations and social judgments. This meant I was required to label my experiences with the realities given to me and those expected of me. Yes, I was angry, and that is not all I felt or experienced; anger was the part I was taught to deny or cover up.

… read more:  The Myth Of The Angry Black Woman | Source: Huffington Post

Chicago Had Its Deadliest Month In Nearly 20 Years — And The Community Says It’s Being Ignored


Chicago’s gun violence is once again making national headlines, this time as the city ended the month of August with 92 homicides, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner ― the highest rate in almost two decades.

With more than 400 wounded, the month was the city’s deadliest since October of 1997.

Earlier this week, Fr. Michael Pfleger of South Side’s St. Sabina Church received three calls from three different community members who wanted to hold funerals at the church.

“In 41 years here, I’ve never had three calls for people being killed in one day,” Pfleger said. “I think the greatest concern is that it’s just seemingly getting worse.”

Wednesday evening during a protest, Pfleger called for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to declare a state of emergency for the city.

“If the city is broke, Chicago needs to be declared a state of emergency so we can get federal resources to come in,” Pfleger said. “I’m told we’re down 1,000 police officers; schools are underfunded and whole communities look like a tornado went through it.” …. continue reading here: Chicago Had Its Deadliest Month In Nearly 20 Years — And The Community Says It’s Being Ignored Source: Huffington Post