“People have tried to put a number on the cost of a death. If someone is shot — even injured — much less killed, there are policing costs,” Butts told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Someone has to show up to process the scene. There are prison costs for the shooter, and then all the other costs for family who have a person shot and or killed. There’s lifelong trauma, loss of income. You can actually estimate the total cost.”
It’s not possible to pinpoint exactly why Brooklyn has more people incarcerated with these long sentences using borough-by-borough numbers alone, said Jeffrey Butts, director of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center. In order to determine why Brooklynites are serving so many life and virtual life sentences, Butts said, it would be necessary to control for specific crimes to then see if there is a pattern in sentencing.
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.
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.”