Ecuador legalized gangs. Murder rates plummeted.
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This approach appealed to David Brotherton, a sociologist at the City University of New York who’s been arguing since the 1990s that US policy wrongly pathologizes gang members.
- So in 2017, a decade after Ecuador legalized gangs, he headed over there to conduct ethnographic research on major groups like the Latin Kings and Queens.
- It turned out they’d undergone a stunning transformation.
- The members were still very active in their gangs, but these were functioning more like social movements or cultural groups.
- Previously violent Latin Kings were working in everything from catering to crime analysis.
- And they were collaborating with other gangs they’d warred with in the past.