Easily Overstated

Policymakers, advocates, and even some researchers claim that youth confinement rates across the United States dropped in recent years due to changes in policy and practice. Such claims remain unproven, but voters and elected officials are inclined to accept them as factual because they are offered by reputable agencies and repeated in news media sources. Without reliable evidence, however, the notion that state-level youth confinement rates fall primarily in response to progressive policy reforms is merely appealing rhetoric.

Public Safety Trends in MAP Communities and Matched Comparison Areas

Was the presence of the MAP initiative in some NYCHA developments associated with greater improvements in crime and victimization outcomes compared with the same outcomes in NYCHA developments not involved in MAP? The results presented here do not answer the question in full, but they offer an early look at efforts by the research team to generate more precise answers. Additional analyses are needed to rule out competing explanations and to examine the complex series of relationships among all the study’s variables. Based on the preliminary findings in this report, however, the results of MAP to date may be considered promising.

Measurement Plan and Analytic Strategies for Evaluating the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety

This second in a series of reports about the evaluation of the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP). This Evaluation Update: summarizes the goals and methods used to evaluate the Mayor’s Action Plan; describes the quasi-experimental design used to test the outcomes and impacts of MAP as well as the data sources assembled by the research team and how they are used; and portrays a logical framework the research team used initially to identify causal pathways through which various elements of MAP were intended to achieve their desired effect.

Quasi-Experimental Comparison Design for Evaluating the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety

To evaluate the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), an initiative to improve the safety of public housing developments, researchers estimated the counterfactual (no intervention) by selecting a set of comparison housing developments not involved in the initiative. The study relied on the statistical method known as propensity score analysis (PSA) to select the comparison group.

Recidivism Reconsidered

Recidivism is not a comprehensive measure of success for criminal justice in general or for community corrections specifically. When used to judge the effects of justice interventions on behavior, the concept of recidivism may even be harmful, as it often reinforces the racial and class biases underlying much of the justice system. We encourage justice systems to rely on more flexible and more responsive outcome measures. Community corrections agencies should encourage policymakers to rely on outcomes related to criminal desistance and the social integration of people on probation or parole. Measures focused on social development and community wellbeing are more useful for evaluating the effects of justice interventions, and they are less likely to distort policy discussions.

Positive Outcomes

Measuring positive outcomes in youth justice requires a shift away from recidivism as the sole indicator of program effectiveness. A youth justice system embracing the PYD approach would gauge its success by tracking positive youth outcomes, such as the formation of strong and supportive relationships, academic engagement, labor market readiness, and improved socio-emotional skills.

Repairing Trust

As part of an ongoing evaluation of the Cure Violence strategy, researchers found the program was potentially associated with less support for the use of violence and greater confidence in police. In a series of neighborhood surveys, young men in areas with Cure Violence programs were less likely to use violence to settle personal disputes and more likely to rely on law enforcement.

The Effects of Cure Violence in the South Bronx and East New York, Brooklyn

Promising evidence that the public health approach to violence reduction championed by Cure Violence may be capable of creating safe and healthy communities.
"A recent evaluation of the NYC program is perhaps most convincing. It was a very sophisticated analysis, done by experienced researchers using police data, hospital data, interviews and surveys. It showed not only reductions in shootings by up to 63 percent, and a change in norms (towards rejecting the use of violence). It also showed that the program resulted in an increase in confidence in police. We’ve heard from several people that this study convinced them even more that the Cure Violence approach really worked." - Gary Slutkin quoted in the Washington Post - June 18, 2018.

Young Men in Neighborhoods with Cure Violence Programs Adopt Attitudes Less Supportive of Violence

Young men living in neighborhoods with Cure Violence programs reported significant reductions in their willingness to use violence compared with men in similar areas without programs. Regression analysis explained 20 percent of the total variance in violence-related norms with significant reductions in willingness to use violence among young men in Cure Violence areas (–14%) and no significant change among residents in matched comparison neighborhoods.

Savings Rate

YAP services generate considerable savings by reducing the need for commitment and out-of-home placement among court-involved youth. Based on average lengths of stay in out-of-home placements in Florida and the actual placement settings used for committed youth in this study, we estimate that the State of Florida saves more than $2.7 Million in avoided placement costs for every 1,000 youth referred to YAP rather than DJJ probation.

Reclaiming Futures and Organizing Justice for Drug-Using Youth

When researchers examined new survey findings from communities that participated in the Reclaiming Futures initiative over a ten-year period, the data suggest that communities with the strongest engagement in Reclaiming Futures tend to have more positive perceptions of their youth justice and substance abuse treatment systems, including key facets of administration, collaboration, and overall system quality. In communities where the survey scores increased significantly during the early years of Reclaiming Futures, improvements were sustained through 2015. Thus, robust implementation of Reclaiming Futures may be associated with lasting improvements in system operations.

Respondent-Driven Sampling: Evaluating the Effects of the Cure Violence Model with Neighborhood Surveys

The John Jay College evaluation of Cure Violence includes methods for estimating a critical intermediate stage in the program’s theory of change. The study measures changes in violence-related attitudes and values of young men (age 18-30) in at-risk neighborhoods and compares areas with and without Cure Violence programs. This requires the study to conduct surveys among a population of hard-to-reach and hard-to-recruit research subjects, which is when “respondent-driven sampling” is most useful.

Perceptions of Violence

The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College is assessing the implementation and effects of Cure Violence programs in New York City. One element in the project involves in-person surveys with young men (ages 18-30) in many of the neighborhoods implementing the strategy. This report contains results from the first four neighborhoods involved in the study.

Staying Connected

When justice systems are “realigned,” youth are supervised by local agencies and placed with locally operated programs rather than being sent away to state facilities. New York’s “Close to Home” (or C2H) initiative is a prominent example of youth justice realignment. With primary support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and additional funds from the Pinkerton Foundation, the Research & Evaluation Center reviewed the design and implementation of the initiative.

Strengthening Youth Justice Practices with Developmental Knowledge and Principles

Youth justice is a challenging environment in which to implement a rigorous PYD approach. The insights and lessons of developmental science do not translate easily into the day-to-day tasks of youth justice systems, which often focus on control and compliance. Youth justice practitioners require assistance as they apply developmental principles. The Positive Youth Justice (PYJ) Model was developed to meet this challenge. It provides a simple framework for designing PYD-compatible interventions for justice-involved young people and for supporting youth justice reforms.