Final stop – Alcatraz

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Alcatraz, America, Criminology, LHSS

On Sunday 24th May we took a boat trip from Pier 33 to the notorious island prison of Alcatraz, which is situated in the San Francisco Bay, near to Angel Island and Treasure Island.

Alcatraz is best known by legend as a federal prison where no one was executed and no one escaped, however because of the islands unique and harsh microclimate the prison was shut down in 1963 due to its deterioration in condition. The island gained its nickname “The Rock” from World War 2 soldiers stationed on the island with regards to its isolation and remoteness.

Alcatraz Island was originally given the name La Isla de los Alcatraces (The Island of the Pelicans) by Juan Manuel de Ayala y Aranza in 1775 when he became the first person to charter the San Francisco bay area. In 1847 the US government ordered a surveillance of the island with regards to the potential construction of fortifications to protect the Bay Area from Spanish invaders.

It took almost 50 years for the island to be carved into the steep slopes and cliffs recognisable today. By 1850, the island was made into a military garrison and when the American Civil War broke out in 1861 the island was fitted with 85 cannons (later increased to 105 by 1866) and became a storage base for firearms to prevent them falling into the hands of confederate sympathisers. Also in 1861, the island adopted another role and became a military prison. by 1867 a brick jailhouse was built on the island and in 1868 Alcatraz was designated a long term detention facility for military prisoners.

Alcatraz became a federal prison in the August of 1934 and held prisoners that consistently caused trouble in other federal prisons. During the 29 years that Alcatraz was a federal prison it held many notorious prisoners, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bump Johnson and Alvin “Creepy” Krepis (who served more time on the island than anyone else) along with many more.

Alcatraz was occupied by a number on native Americans for 19 months from 1969. Those that occupied the island during this time demanded that the island be adapted so that there could be new structures built and an Indian education centre built along with a culture and ecology centre.

In 1972 the island became a National Recreation Area and in 1986 was designated as a National Historic Landmark and is now managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Sent by Clare Eales

City Hall and the Gang Reduction and Youth Development office

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Criminology, LHSS

The city hall itself was amazing and steeped in American history. Then we met with the Gang Reduction and Youth Development office (GRYD) to discuss what they had done since their establishment in 2007. The work they have done is outstanding; the programmes as well as implementing a new strategy with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Those who work in the office respond to every shooting that could be related to gang crime no matter what time of the day.

Their initiatives are up to date gang prevention theory and so is based on evidence rather than opinions. Prevention programmes are used for children between 10 and 15 whereas intervention programmes are used for children who are 14 to 25. To decide which children are at high risk of joining a gang,  they must fit 4 of 9 criteria. Once these children are identified, GRYD works with the family and the child to prevent them joining a gang.

Intervention services work with the family and the individual like in the prevention programme but also include things like tattoo removal and development programmes, such as job finding, and counselling.

For those coming back into the community from incarceration, GRYD are piloting a re-entry programme which will provide family case management services for 90 days pre-release.

One event that GRYD have started is the Summer Nights Live (SNL) which provides activities in parks throughout the summer in 32 parks across L.A. and between 2013 and 2014 reduced gang violence by 15.4% whilst the events took place with the aim of bringing together all members of the community including both those associated with gangs and those who are not. With a total of around 4 million people served since 2008, the initiative has not only reconnected communities but served over 2 million meals free of charge and created a total of around 7 thousand employment opportunities for those within the GRYD communities.

Overall, meeting GRYD helped us gain knowledge not only gangs themselves but also about prevention and intervention both of which aren’t prevalent within the UK. The work they have done and are continuing to do has so far been a huge success reducing crime and gang violence within these communities. In visiting GRYD it became clear that prevention and intervention appears to be successful in reducing gang crime within the most effected areas of LA.

Sent from Beth and Alisha