From Civil War to Gangs
From: Gang Life
Jafar, a Sudanese refugee and father of two, recounts a harrowing
story in Chapter Nine. When he was four years old, his
family fled a civil war that had taken the lives of many relatives.
He witnessed atrocities and endured a four-month trek to Egypt
on foot, by boat, and by train. His parents were looking for a
better life but did not find it in Canada. Jafar led a vicious street
gang that had splintered from a larger gang over a dispute. He
brought rules and order to what was then a disorganized group
of thugs from Sub-Saharan Africa, but he grew disillusioned
a couple of years later. From jail, he witnessed his gang spiral
into confusion in the leadership vacuum. Jafar has turned his
life around following his exit from gang life. Now twenty-nine
years old and facing deportation for his crimes, he has been out
of gang life for four years. He is clean and sober, has completed
high school and college, and works full time with a social agency.
MARK TOTTEN is a professor of criminal justice at Humber College in Toronto whose research focuses on organized crime, corrections, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, mental health, violence, and gender identity. Over the past decade, he has collaborated with groups in Ontario and Western Canada in the development and evaluation of multi-year gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.