Trump isn’t the first national politician to poke at those anxieties. George Wallace, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all raised fears of crime, said Jeffrey Butts, who directs the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
[Cure Violence workers] “try to stop the cycle of retaliation, and because they are not seen as an extension of law enforcement, the people most likely to be walking around with handguns in their pocket will talk to them and will allow them to settle a dispute before it turns violent,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Such notions, says Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, may skew the violence-intervention focus too far into short-term preventive tactics driven by law enforcement.
First, the vast majority of gun crimes are handled by state courts, not federal courts, said Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. So Trump is talking about a small piece of the issue.
Jurisdictions that make extensive use of parole tend to have higher recidivism rates because more of their returning citizens are under the surveillance of parole officers and subject to onerous parole conditions that, if violated, could send them back to prison. “Comparing virtually any group of states or cities with simple, aggregate recidivism figures is inherently misleading and should constitute statistical malpractice,” according to criminologists Jeffrey A. Butts and Vincent Schiraldi.
Will people really commit fewer robberies and shootings if the trash gets picked up? The city is working with researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to test exactly this.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice reported last fall that neighborhoods with Cure Violence sites had significant crime reductions compared with similar areas without them. In the East New York site run by Man Up, gun injury rates fell by 50 percent over four years; the control site in East Flastbush fell by only 5 percent. Similarly, shootings were down by 63 percent in the Save Our Streets South Bronx area, but only 17 percent in the East Harlem control neighborhood.
Rather than asking “what’s the recidivism rate?” we should ask an entirely different set of questions about justice interventions. Are we really helping people convicted of crimes to form better relationships with their families and their law-abiding friends? Are we helping them to advance their educational goals? Are they more likely to develop the skills and abilities required for stable employment? Are we helping them to respect others and to participate positively in the civic and cultural life of their communities?
“People who feel they’ve been disrespected on social media will take it to the streets,” said Jeff Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has evaluated violence prevention programs in New York. “It’s about pride and respect.”
"Nothing in the governor's plan ensures that Wisconsin will have an effective approach to youth justice," cautioned Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. "Poor implementation and ineffective management can ruin the best of plans."
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said the Wisconsin prisons’ problems come from poor management. Staff who argue they need things like pepper spray, solitary confinement and shackles are saying “our culture within the facility has become so corrupted by violence we have no other options,” he said. The methods “are not necessary, they don’t work and they just lead to more violence,” said Butts, who has researched youth justice for nearly three decades.
They have prior criminal records but now aim to resolve neighborhood conflicts before they turn violent. They walk neighborhood streets on a daily basis and use their connections to resolve disputes before they escalate, requiring the police. These “violence interrupters” and their tactics helped to drive down crime in East New York and the South Bronx, two neighborhoods analyzed in a John Jay College of Criminal Justice report.
Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is studying the effectiveness of Cure Violence, said it is unfair to argue that the arrest of an outreach worker means that the entire program should be disbanded. Everyone loves to jump on this story every time,” Butts said. “We never do that when a police officer shoots an innocent person. We may say, ‘We should be more careful who we hire,’ or ‘We need to train people better,’ but we never say ‘We should stop having police officers patrol our streets.’”
Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is currently researching Cure Violence, said a different relationship develops in each city between police, outreach workers, and the community. He said that, in New York, a culture of respect has developed slowly, and now works well. “Everyone’s ideal is mutual trust and respect,” he said.
There is a constant struggle between street-work models that favor some cooperation with police, and those that favor total detachment, said Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is studying the effectiveness of Cure Violence. Butts said it’s not necessary to choose one or the other. “Obviously, if you’re associated with law enforcement, it’s easier to attract funding than if you’re employing a lot of ex-gang members,” he said. “But you have to recognize that there is a place for both.”
That’s not to say the 2015 murder increase isn’t alarming. Criminologists say it’s worth paying attention to, although we don’t really know why the rate increased in 2015 just yet. As John Jay College criminologist Jeffrey Butts put it to the Guardian, “You lost 50 pounds. You gained back a couple. You’re not fat. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at your behavior, because the trend is not good.”
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Spofford was modeled on big, centralized detention centers that were rooted in the 19th century, he said. It was part of an era when “detention centers had become a way of punishing people even before they went to court,” Mr. Butts said.
As John Jay College criminologist Jeffrey Butts put it to the Guardian, “You lost 50 pounds. You gained back a couple. You’re not fat. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at your behavior, because the trend is not good.”
“No one has ever been able to find direct, defensible evidence that the behavior of the system regarding juvenile versus adult jurisdiction plays a direct role in overall crime trends,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center. “Crime trends behave the way they behave, and they have a lot more to do with general conditions in the community and everything else. If you’re working in the system, you start developing the belief that you are in control of these trends. Whenever people look at it seriously, it’s never true.”
Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the study seemed like “academic clickbait.” What are judges supposed to do, he asked rhetorically, not handle cases in the week following each unexpected loss? Butts is open to good data analysis, he said, and appreciates transparency, but he has concerns about what he sees as a movement toward using large data sets for things like predictive policing, where police use math and data analysis to pinpoint potential criminal activity. That may be acceptable as long as it’s one tool in many, he said, but data shouldn’t drive the entire justice system.
Some criminal justice experts caution that limiting early release programs or imposing harsher sentences could backfire by increasing costs, straining overcrowded prisons and eliminating incentives for prisoners to behave well while incarcerated. "It's easy after the fact to say: 'If I were king of the forest, I would never have let these two guys out,'" said Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who studies the effectiveness of criminal justice programs.
"It's all about reducing probabilities," said Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. "That doesn't mean that things won’t happen."
Nevertheless, the bill has significant limitations, and Jeffrey Butts, Director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, believes that the law is predicated on a number of assumptions about what kinds of systems are already in place to track firearms. “One problem with the new law is that it presumes a good firearms database that’s up-to-date,” Butts told ThinkProgress, “It also presumes that there’s some meaningful connection between the registration of a purchase and the presence of those weapons in that home, at that time.”
As criminologist Jeffrey Butts explained to ThinkProgress, “Police are trained not to react too aggressively to the mentally ill and to avoid arrests if at all possible. In the past, people with mental illness were too often arrested for simply behaving strangely and not responding to instructions when confronted by police.
But Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, cautioned that it might be a stretch to link the knockout game with a rise in anti-Semitic assaults. First, he said, there is no proof that the incidents were linked, or even that any kind of formal game existed, and second, the main motivation of the game was not hatred for a particular group, but "social distance."