James Diego Vigil, Professor of Criminology, Law & Society, grew up in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood but credits social programs and his sisters for keeping him out of trouble. Vigil has written several books on urban minority youths and Southern California gangs – subjects he knows firsthand.
“Poverty is at the root of the most serious gangs in Southern California and the nation,” he says. “What I focus on is the breakdown of social control in these neighborhoods. When things fall apart, kids are floating free and more apt to join gangs and become what I call ‘street-socialized.’”