Reggie Woods was part of the problem. Now he’s on the front lines of prevention.

by Deena Zaru
November 9, 2021

… According to experts who study and evaluate solutions to gun violence, research shows that the concept is “promising,” but challenges persist when it comes to implementation and funding; however, a consistent merit of the model is the value of the violence interrupters themselves.

… “[Violence interrupters] are from the same streets, grew up in the same areas and had the same experiences as young people and so they just have more access and access means influence,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The possibility of influencing someone’s behavior and attitude is stronger if you come at them as an equal.”

… Although results of a 2015 evaluation were more mixed, Webster said another finding was that young people in neighborhoods with violence interruption programs were less likely to believe gun violence was an acceptable way to respond to conflict. According to Butts, this key measure of success was also found in a 2017 evaluation of violence interrupter programs in New York City. “We’re not even very good at funding and managing these programs and yet, we’re still seeing effects,” Butts said. “… just imagine what we could do if we got serious about managing them and implementing them properly.”