No Way Out

What's more dangerous than staying in a murderous street gang? Trying to quit.

With his crazy stare, massive knuckles and tattooed biceps, Jimmy T. looks like an urban grenade with a faulty pin. The five-alarm face fits nicely with his career as an up-and-coming member of a Chicago gang called the Vice Lords. But when his face relaxes and the baby fat sinks back in place, a different visage emerges. Disarmed of weapons and bravado, Jimmy is a terrified 16-year- old who did something very, very stupid one hot summer night this past June.

"O.K., it was like this," he says, rubbing those big hands together and rocking slightly in his chair. "They told...

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