I often wonder, how did we get here — ending August with 357 homicides, on track to be our deadliest year recorded for shooting deaths?... Other cities, like New York and Oakland, Calif., have been where we are today but made improvements. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A report published last year by John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center, authored by a diverse group of academic consultants, lays out a framework for action I believe we can apply in Philadelphia.
Jeffrey Butts said that while he is encouraged by1 the Biden administration's public commitment to gun violence research, long hobbled by years of underfunding at the federal level, more attention needs to be paid to community-based programs that don't rely on police intervention.
New York City’s Cure Violence programs found shootings and gun injuries dropped in two neighborhoods where such programs were in place between 2013 and 2017, according to an evaluation led by Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Sadly, I’ve dedicated my life to using facts and data to influence crime policy. I don’t think we’re any better at it than we were 30 years ago,” Butts said. He has seen both Democrats and Republicans try to use crime stats to scare voters. It’s hard to stop them because “politics was way out ahead of information and the facts.”
Progressive-minded criminologists like Roman or Butts are boosters of community antiviolence intervention programs such as the Cure Violence model, in which more mature people from the neighborhood work as “violence interrupters” and seek to mediate disputes or defuse tensions before they get out of hand.
"It’s absurd to suggest that a change in New York bail practices somehow led to the shooting surge we’ve seen in cities across the country, not only New York City," said Jeffrey Butts, research professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "I doubt the officials posing this explanation even believe it. It’s just an opportunity to score political points against a law they would oppose whether it was effective or not."
Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the pandemic has exacerbated societal shortcomings that existed well before the health crisis.
“In general, courts and legislatures do tend to leave a little wiggle room for judicial interpretation, and of course prosecutors always hate that,” said Jeffrey Butts, head of the Research Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Jeffrey Butts, who has done extensive research on cure-violence initiatives, also questioned how far the experiment could go.