On June 10, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the $10M expansion of Cure Violence programs in police precincts in New York City with the highest amounts of gun violence.
In a podcast interview with the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, I discussed gun violence prevention and the need to maintain a balanced evidence base.
Gun violence affects far more people than those wounded directly. Victims’ families suffer mental, emotional, and financial costs as well. The cost of gun violence extends beyond the immediate medical consequences and the public pays.
“It makes me sad to see that some of the issues we identified ten years ago are still hindering the effectiveness of the place,” said Jeffrey Butts, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who conducted the earlier evaluation.
The Tessa Majors case is a test for New York’s recently-enacted Raise The Age law, which barred the state from automatically prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Jeffrey Butts, who leads John Jay College’s Research and Evaluation Center, told Floyd that this is the exact kind of case that the law’s critics could use as leverage to reverse it.
Policymakers, advocates, and even some researchers claim that youth confinement rates across the United States dropped in recent years due to changes in policy and practice. Such claims remain unproven, but voters and elected officials are inclined to accept them as factual because they are offered by reputable agencies and repeated in news media sources. Without reliable evidence, however, the notion that state-level youth confinement rates fall primarily in response to progressive policy reforms is merely appealing rhetoric.
Over the last five years the number of police stops and arrests involving Capital Region youths has fallen more than 45 percent, according to state data. It’s a stunning drop — but one without a clear single reason, say law enforcement and juvenile justice system professionals. Several factors are likely in play, including an overall drop in crime in the country, changes in the drug trade, increased use of alternatives to incarceration and changes in youth culture, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, tracking trends, and something definitely feels different than it did 20 years ago,” Butts said.
Between 2000 and 2018, the steepest declines in drug arrests were observed among youth ages 10 to 14 (–52%) and young people ages 15 to 17 (–56%). Arrest rates among young adults also fell. Specifically, the drug arrest rate dropped –35 percent for 18-20 year-olds and –15 percent for adults ages 21-to 24.