Facing the Real World

Subheader: Visiting Homeboy Industries on a LAPS field trip was an eye opening experience.


By: Maria Sanchez

Imagine being in prison for almost your whole life then coming out and not knowing where to start or even what the “real” world is like. The Law Academy (LAPS) at Oxnard High School took a field trip to Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles where students got to visit men and women that were formerly incarcerated due to gang activity. After being released from prison, they go to Homeboy to seek help to get back on track. Homeboy Industries provides: education, legal services, therapy for mental health and domestic violence, and even free tattoo removals.


Father Greg Boyle founded Homeboy Industries in 2001 and works to make it something greater every day. LAPS academy advisor, Jaime Moreno said, “I take my students here to expose them to things outside of Oxnard and to look at a facility that promotes community services, rehabilitation and uses their services to change the lives of people in Los Angeles.” All therapists, social workers, and doctors are all voluntarily helping Homeboy Industries.


During my visit to the facility, we split into two groups. My tour guide was in prison for 20 years and had just been released four months ago. In those 20 years, 15 of them were spent in solitary confinement. He was in prison for a robbery that was linked to gang violence. He talked about the social problems that he faced because of his time behind bars. For example, he had trouble with large crowds and communicating with people. He mentioned the trouble he had when he would go out in public and people would stare at him a certain way because of his tattoos.


Another tour guide we had was a woman whose emotional story began when she was involved in gang activity. When she was about 10 years old she started selling drugs on the street making about $1,000 dollars a week, and because of that, she didn’t see her education as something she needed. She later got into an abusive relationship and was held captive in a room, and all while she had a baby. One day she managed to escape with her baby, and she went to Homeboy Industry to receive help.    


Visiting this facility made me realize that you can always recover after going down a wrong path in life. Homeboy Industries is there with open hands for anyone who needs guidance to get back on their feet.