I have not read the book, but have the succinct version in hand (American Inferno, New Yorker, 7/24/2017, page 32. 10 pages). Based on a sympathetic interview I heard a few weeks ago (KPFK, I think) when she was flogging her book, her concern is the harsh sentences given to youth, a continuing problem in US courts.
I was not entirely convinced--this was not always the "crime-ridden Los Angeles County" Ms. Allen describes and Michael made his own choices, as we all do.
In his defense, I would note the crowded job market here as well as the huge housing costs. As the Immigration Act of 1965 has taken a stronger and strong hold it squeezes working stiffs tighter and tighter.