Concentrated gun violence results in lost population and economic power, increases trauma throughout communities and depresses school outcomes among students exposed to violence. Interventions deliberately designed to empower youth who are frequently exposed to community trauma are an important tool to break the cycle of violence that repeats far too frequently.
When Allen Breed was appointed director of the California Youth Authority (CYA) in 1968 by Gov. Ronald Reagan, he assumed responsibility for an agency that was considered a national model for providing rehabilitation to youth in its custody – a reputation he helped sow. Prior to his appointment as CYA director, Breed served as superintendent of the Preston School of Industry, one of the nation’s largest and oldest reform schools. It was here that he led efforts to humanize care in an institution that was notorious for violence and brutality, by introducing new treatment techniques and organizational management. Having established a record for creative and innovative leadership, Breed was selected to continue the agency’s legacy by promoting concepts of institutional rehabilitation. In an industry where leaders too often act as apologists for long established, but failed practices, Allen Breed became one of the CYA’s harshest critics. Despite spending an entire career with the CYA, when Breed ascended to the role of CYA director, he began to challenge the efficacy of the very practices he once promoted. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the CYA instituted new practices such as group counseling which later proved ineffective within the culture of violence that pervaded CYA institutions.