Marlo “Bow Wow” Jones was a well-known gang intervention worker in South Los Angeles. Connie Rice, the prominent civil rights attorney, called Jones a charismatic figure who could bring rival gang sects together. On Saturday, Jones was arrested on charges of robbing and beating a member a rap group, says the Los Angeles Times. His arrest has again shaken the world of gang intervention, which relies on former gang members to help police prevent violence and get gang members out of the life. Jones is the latest of several well-known gang intervention workers to be accused of falling back.
Some believe his case underscores the need for changes in the city’s gang strategy. Rice said Jones’ arrest raises a key question: how to keep ex-members from slipping back into gangs. “He was not a professional. He didn’t have the value system of a professional and the dedication of a professional,” Rice said. The Rev. Jeff Carr, who oversees the mayor’s anti-gang programs, said Jones’ arrest is resonating. Rice and Carr believe officials need to do more to monitor gang intervention programs, including criminal background checks and drug testing. At the same time, there is a need to build professionalism by giving gang interventionists a salary, health benefits and training, they said. “This is a more high-risk enterprise than most. It’s the reality of the business,” Rice said. “We are trying to create a profession here. The [anti-gang] groups are going to stumble. The agencies are going to stumble. This is an experiment.”