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?
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.
… Americans have “a deep cultural instinct to punish as a way of changing behavior,” says Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “And most people making decisions about policy are thinking about someone else’s kid,” not their own.
“There’s never a good reason to send kids away,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It could be about convenience, fear, politics or a way of adding jobs to outlying areas where there aren’t enough jobs. But it’s never about public safety.”
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.
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.”