Another explanation could be an affordable housing crisis exacerbated by Nashville's booming economy, said Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This can be particularly true for some neighborhoods. “The social stresses of shared housing and multifamily housing increase the chances that adolescents become frustrated and alienated," Butts said, creating an environment conducive to more crime.
An expert in juvenile justice policy and research said that prosecutors' justification for declining to press charges suggests an office-wide bias in favor of officers. "The memorandum from the state attorney uses language revealing the intent of the office, which is to minimize the violent nature of the attack," said Jeffrey Butts, who is director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
That longstanding approach was problematic at best, according to Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College. “We’re setting ourselves up for failure when we take a young person who is 14- or 15-years-old, send them hours away from their family, and break all their ties to their communities,” he says.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center found that between 2014 and 2016, there was a 50 percent decrease in gun injuries in East New York, Brooklyn and a 37 percent reduction in the South Bronx, two communities where Cure Violence has been implemented.
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay, said access to weapons among young men inured to violence and living in poverty can lead to deadly results. “Think about yourself and some dumb things you did when you were a teenager,” said Butts. “And then imagine living in Brownsville and walking around with a pistol in your pocket all the time. You’re 17 years old, you think you’re invulnerable, and you pull that weapon out.”
“It’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ culture with some of the people they have managing these facilities,” added Butts, who has worked with policymakers in 28 states, largely on youth justice. “With strong kids controlling the weak kids — and the staff controlling the strong kids. “You are using violence to try to teach kids not to use violence.”
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that in some ways, law enforcement never has been best equipped for crunching the numbers. Go to a police department and ask to be taken to the unit that does the crime reporting. Sometimes, it’s civilians with advanced degrees and computers, he said. “Other places, you walk in and it’s full of uniforms,” he said, pointing out that some departments view crime reporting as a desk job for officers who no longer want to work patrol. At a department such as the New York City Police Department, there are civilian research analysts with doctorates.
Jeffrey Butts is director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and he’s worked with policymakers in 28 states, largely on youth justice. “It takes a high level of neglect for a long time for this stuff to emerge,” he said “It’s like black mold: It will grow if nobody is cleaning it up.”
As juvenile justice experts around the nation were recommending smaller, more localized facilities, Wisconsin went in the opposite direction, consolidating operations in a remote setting.
Other sources of potential support faded away, explains Jeffrey Butts of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, due to fundamental misgivings with the quality of even the juvenile justice system and with the arbitrary choice of 18 as a magical birthday. Butts and others have advocated for a total overhaul of the system, so that it gradually escalates responsibility and adjusts services up to age 25. He said he told individuals within the Cuomo Administration of his concerns in 2014. "My advice was don't do this," he says. "Don't waste the political capital on the Raise the Age debate because it's a partial victory at the very best." "Why would he want to be the 49th governor to raise the age to 18," he continues, "when he could be the first governor to revolutionize the whole conversation?"
Crime upticks from 2004 to 2006 generated similar concern after a decade of declines, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College. “Everyone started to panic, there was all sorts of speculation, and then it started back down again in 2007 and 2008, and it just plummeted from there,” Mr. Butts said of the overall decline in crime rates. “On a year-by-year basis, you can’t overreact or over-infer.”
Sociologist Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said combating gang violence requires a multipronged approach that includes both enforcement and prevention. “There’s no single solution,” he said. “Every community that gets serious about this realizes they have to work on multiple fronts and multiple angles.” He said a key is to work with young people to prevent them from being recruited into gangs by instilling a sense of belonging and helping them repair relations with family and friends, building a sense of hope and finding out if there are problems at school and, if there are, finding out why.