CityLab — What We Fight About When We Fight About Parking

Sociologists and criminologists theorize as to why violence can erupt from such seemingly inconsequential concerns. Jeffrey Butts, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, says that the dynamics of parking provocations are sometimes similar to those of gang violence: Individuals who think their territory is threatened feel that they have to respond with violence to protect it.

JJIE — With Plunging Crime Rate, New York Experts Dreaming Big

But while the numbers show New York City is shifting gears on criminal justice reform, much harder is to establish, the experts said, is whether new policies are causing the drop in crime or whether they are a consequence of it.... Crime numbers have been decreasing for a long time nationwide, and even worldwide, said Jeffrey Butts, a professor who leads the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has researched the juvenile justice system since the late 1980s.

Nonprofit Quarterly—Community Nonprofits Reduce Gun Violence through Peer Networks

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center analyzed the New York City experience with the Cure Violence model in 2017, seven years after the strategy was adopted. It found reductions in gun injuries of 37–50 percent in the South Bronx and Brooklyn. The center also documented a 14 percent reduction in attitudes supporting violence, with no change in control populations. However, more research is needed.

The Recidivism Trap

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?

NationSwell—The Impressive Top-to-Bottom Makeover of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System

At the height of the War on Drugs, policymakers generally split along partisan lines about how to respond to criminal acts by youth. The right wing saw unchangeable “super-predators” who needed to be incarcerated to restore law and order, while leftists saw victims of poverty who needed counseling and therapy, says Dr. Jeffrey Butts, director of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research & Evaluation Center.

Interview with the International Juvenile Justice Observatory

The main challenge is that juvenile justice policies are not based on a simple, rational assessment of costs and effectiveness, or even on the basic concept of justice. Policy choices are affected by fear and emotion, as well as political/electoral competition, economic self-interest of governments and service providers, and the enduring battle between social classes as to who defines the origins and solutions to social problems.

The Marshall Project—Gangs of New York

Jeffrey Butts, a director of research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, co-wrote an ongoing analysis of Cure Violence’s presence in high-crime New York City neighborhoods and found that homicide rates are on a downward trend in three areas that employed the interrupters in Brooklyn and in northern Manhattan. “They can form relationships in high-violence communities that police, social workers and ministers simply can’t,” Butts said.

Chronicle of Social Change—Positive Youth Justice: Curbing Crime, Building Assets

The model is most succinctly explained in a recent brief written by Dr. Jeffrey Butts, a noted juvenile justice researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a leading proponent of PYJ: “The PYJ Model suggests that youth justice systems should focus on youths’ acquisition of two core developmental assets: learning/doing and attaching/belonging. These two assets should be acquired and experienced by every youth within six distinct domains: work, education, relationships, community, health and creativity.”

JJIE—Scared Straight Programs Remain Popular Among Parents

Scared straight programs are also fall in line with “tough on crime” mentality in the justice system, said Jeffrey Butts, director of research and evaluation at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and expert on criminal behavior. “It’s a strong thing in America that we believe that being tough on people, punishing people, coercing them – basically forcing them to behave the way we want them to behave – it will somehow work,” he said.

Center for Public Integrity—Georgia’s Troubled Effort to Reduce Juvenile Crime

Juvenile justice expert Jeffrey Butts said he's not surprised that JJIE's analysis found the similar recidivism rates. "It's a finding I would predict in all states," he said.

In part, that's because society holds a false expectation about juvenile lockups, "a fantasy that incarceration is treatment," said Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "We lock them up and then we convince ourselves it's good for the kids too."

JJIE—Interpreting the Juvenile Incarceration Drop

Even if we observe a number of instances when state reforms are followed by lower incarceration, we have to test whether the causal hypothesis holds up in the absence of reform? If we lined up all the states according to whether they had enacted meaningful reforms in their juvenile justice systems, would their incarceration trends line up in the same way, with high reform states showing more decline and low reform states showing less? Moreover, does the relationship persist over time and under varying circumstances?

Youth Today—DC Reforms Offer Some Kids New Beginning

Reducing capacity at secure residential facilities frees up scarce resources for developing quality wrap-around services within the community, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “If we increase the juvenile justice budget by 10 times, we would not have these (secure) buildings,” Butts said. “We would have a full-time teacher and a social worker and a cognitive therapist and a job placement coordinator. We would just create teams of support around that kid and try to recreate the good parenting that they’re lacking.”

JJIE — States Mull Ohio-Style Juvenile Justice Reform

But Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, co-authored a 2011 report comparing different juvenile justice reform strategies and said even nearly two decades’ worth of data is not enough to draw from in some cases.
“My criticism of RECLAIM Ohio and a lot of the others [modeled after it] like REDEPLOY Illinois is we don’t really know if they will work because most of them were implemented during a point in which crime was on the rise,” in the mid 1990s, said Butts. That nationwide rise was followed by a nationwide fall. “A lot of the retrospective review of their effectiveness has been done during the crime decline,” he said. “We’ve all been riding our sleds down the same hill, congratulating ourselves on how fast we’re going, but we don’t really know what’s going to happen when we hit bottom,” he said.

Governor Decides—in Juvenile Justice, City Kids Belong Near Home

Jeffrey Butts, a justice scholar at John Jay College who has worked with the city on analyzing its juvenile capacity needs, notes that a city-administered system could create new financial incentives to keep kids out of lockups altogether, since incarceration is many times more expensive than alternative programs that provide community-based supervision alongside services like family counseling and job training. "If you have $100 to spend and you can either use that money to put one kid in a facility or work with three or four kids in the community, you'll find that the impulse to put kids in secure facilities goes way down," says Butts.