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Jumped In: What Gangs Taught Me about Violence, Drugs, Love, and Redemption Hardcover – March 6, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a bullet-train of a book. Jorja Leap writes about gang members with objectivity and compassion. Her descriptions of her private life are a fusion of dead-on honesty shot through with humor. A remarkable read.”—Leon Bing, bestselling author of Do or Die

Jumped In…sprints way past scholarly and educational, aiming for the outright transformational.”—UCLA Today

“…Raw and engaging…must-read, an eye-opener and heart-expander.”—The San Francisco Book Review

“Leap, a professor of social welfare at UCLA, crafts a fascinating if troubling ethnography of gang culture in Los Angeles… There is much to admire about Leap’s study: its novelistic style, how well the dialogue conveys the inner lives of Leap’s interviewees, the mosaic-like organization.”—Publishers Weekly

“Why are nearly five thousand kids and young adults still shot to death each year in America—and what can be done about it? Jumped In is the haunting, funny, tragic and revelatory tale in which Jorja Leap takes us into the heart of these questions. Leap’s frank and enthralling personal narrative introduces us to a parade of cops, gangsters, homegirls, drug dealers and unlikely heroes, each in possession of a fragment of the needed answers. We watch as Leap’s own existence is fundamentally altered by these often deeply intimate encounters. And, in accompanying her, we too emerge humanized and wiser for the experience.”—Celeste Fremon, author of G-Dog and the Homeboys, editor/founder of WitnessLA.com and The California Justice Report

“What makes Jorja Leap a gang expert is not just her years of experience and indefatigable research, but her heightened reverence for the enormous complexity of the gang dilemma. Jumped In gives us a window into a world of a sub-grouping of the poor who few understand and too many demonize. Her view is both “aerial” and “in the weeds” while always staying heartbreakingly compassionate and true. Her work gives me hope.”Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., Founder and Executive Director, Homeboy Industries

“Dr. Leap uncovers the good, the bad, and the ugly reality facing the Los Angeles Police Department, the thinly staffed county departments that provide social services, and the school districts that attempt to educate children who emerge from often dysfunctional families. The journey of Jumped In will put a reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride from indifference to sorrow to sympathy for this portion of society so many Angelenos comfortably drive past.”—Lee Baca, sheriff, Los Angeles County

“Leap’s strength is her comprehensive investigation into organic campaigns, community initiatives, research, and political maneuvering to decrease gang activity.”—VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

About the Author

Jorja Leap has been on the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles Department of Social Welfare since 1992. A recognized expert in gangs, violence, and crisis intervention, she has worked nationally and internationally in violent and postwar settings. Dr. Leap is currently the senior policy advisor on Gangs and Youth Violence for the Los Angeles County Sheriff.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807044563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807044568
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jorja Leap has been on the faculty of the UCLA Department of Social Welfare since 1992 and has served as a lecturer, researcher, and consultant. A recognized expert in gangs, violence, and crisis intervention, she has worked nationally and internationally in violent and postwar settings. Dr. Leap is currently the senior policy advisor on Gangs and Youth Violence for the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

Photo Credit: Anthony Kaklamanos, 2010.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ming Loong Teo on March 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am fortunate to know Dr. Jorja Leap. I am a student of hers at UCLA, and I firmly believe Beacon knew what they were doing when they offered her a book deal. The first chapter had me in tears as I read it on a campus shuttle. I haven't been able to put it down, and I even walked into a wall whilst reading it [she would be proud, I'm sure]. My best friend laughed at me as I told her of this, so I bought another copy for her in hopes that she also suffers the same embarrassing fate.

I've been working in the field of social welfare and human rights for the past ten years. Throughout my childhood and the course of my career, I have experienced firsthand some of the things Jorja writes about; it's what led me to seek an MSW at the age of thirty. This book touches home in so many ways, and I can't even begin to tell about the flood of memories that resurge when I read this book. This book, if anything, helped reaffirm the reality that social work is my calling - - and I hope that for those that aren't completely aware of the world that they live in, of the poverty right under their nose, and of the people living alongside us that are living (and dying) through the hell of drugs, poverty, gang life, and incarceration - - I hope they would sit down and read this book. Jorja's work is commendable, and I can only hope that one day I will be half the social worker she is.

Whether you're someone that works in a helping profession, or you're someone that has never seen a second of poverty, or you are someone that has lost a friend or family member to drugs and gang violence - - I strongly urge you... I beg you to read this book.

I also learned that the proceeds of this book go to Homeboy Industries... you learn something amazing, and you benefit an organization that saves countless lives... it just goes to show you where her heart is (if the pages of the book don't already make it clear enough).
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By kevdog on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love to read, and feel oblidged to read every book until the end. I am very fascinated with this specific subject matter as well...

However...I gave up.

This book is more about the author's high-brow view of herself and her own personal life. The gang stories interwoven almost come off as incidental. She would rather take you into her personal life...me me me. I didn't buy a book to read how a middle-aged woman is finding herself. This is Eat, Love and Pray with a guy throwing up gang signs on occasion.

It reads liks a bad diary. The tone is mired in self-righteousness and lacks any sort of journalistic or even academic voice. Its light on substance and heavy in Ms. Leap's personal life and just how great and non-conforming she is. Who knows, she may be both, but it ia certainly not what I expected.

I read Father Greg and the Homeboys, and that book is more true to the subject matter and less self-promoting than this book. If you want to read a good first-person account of someone who ingrained themself in gang activity and produced a subtantive work, buy Father Greg's book instead.

I wish I could have my 15 dollars back.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wjb VINE VOICE on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This eye opening account from someone on the front lines also taught me about violence and love. It was heartbreaking to read the history of some of the gangbangers. A good number have come from childhoods filled with neglect, abandonment and abuse both sexual and physical. It was easier to understand why they would gravitate to a group. This group, however, dysfunctional, is all that many know. They get hooked to a neighborhood, a way of life, and this is how they survive and cope with life on a day-to-day basis. However, this pressing social problem has to be addressed and the violence tempered. Young people should not expect to be incarcerated or killed. What kind of life can that possibly be? If you care about people, pick up a copy of Ms. Leap's book. It will change the way you feel about your fellow man, and yes, these are our brothers and sisters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Bee's Mama on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wanted to love this book. I did. While the subject matter is compelling, I found I just could not care less when the author spoke about her own life.
I could not get past the 90 page barrier.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Learner on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jumped In is an amazing book filled with very interesting and inspiring stories. I learned so much about the lives of gang members and those who work to end gang violence in Los Angeles County. The author, Jorja Leap, is a wonderful writer that uses humor and her personal life stories to add greatly to the book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic or anyone who is looking for a page turner. All profits for this book go to Homeboy Industries, an amazing non-profit that assists at-risk and formerly gang involved youth to
become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Heather Loyd on June 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Leap's ethnography is a poignant account of gang life and the difficulties and risks youth face when trying to leave their gang - their neighborhood, their families, their identities. She writes about the reality of growing up in a situation where one faces some combination of poverty, abuse, negligence and intergenerational involvement in crime, and turns to gangs as a way to survive. Echoing Father Greg Boyle, who runs Homeboy Industries (the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in America), Dr. Leap argues that these youth are not running to gangs, they are running away from something else - in other words, running away from the pain of everyday life that they have been dealing with since childhood. As she gives story after complicated and heartbreaking story that paints a vivid picture of the worlds of these youth that lead such risky lives, (and because of it, are also incredibly resilient), she offers the idea that the gang serves as an antidepressant: "Many of the homies and homegirls are self-medicating, using the thrill of gang life to avoid feeling depression, emptiness, loss." Dr. Leap acknowledges that there are no easy answers to improve or remedy the gang dilemma but makes a strong case for the community-based approach for gang and violence prevention. Youth need to see that there is more than gang life out there for them. They need strong schools, opportunities for work and job training, strong family and community. They need to be loved and cared for. We, as a global community, need to invest in LONG-TERM intervention by providing comprehensive services to them.

This book is not only a great resource for those who are interested in gangs, inner city life or youth at risk, it represents the other side of a complex story that everyone should be aware of.
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