Arnold Ventures asked the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to review and summarize the research evidence for policies and programs that reduce community violence without relying on police.
Jeffrey Butts interviewed for this story on Fox News, July 30, 2020.
“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.
Was the presence of the MAP initiative in some NYCHA developments associated with greater improvements in crime and victimization outcomes compared with the same outcomes in NYCHA developments not involved in MAP? The results presented here do not answer the question in full, but they offer an early look at efforts by the research team to generate more precise answers. Additional analyses are needed to rule out competing explanations and to examine the complex series of relationships among all the study’s variables. Based on the preliminary findings in this report, however, the results of MAP to date may be considered promising.
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.
To evaluate the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), an initiative to improve the safety of public housing developments, researchers estimated the counterfactual (no intervention) by selecting a set of comparison housing developments not involved in the initiative. The study relied on the statistical method known as propensity score analysis (PSA) to select the comparison group.
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.
A research team led by sociologist Jeffrey Butts, executive director of the research and evaluation center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, will monitor the work in Denver and in four other communities that recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice. Butts said the results could help craft strategies in hard-hit cities like Detroit, where crime stubbornly refuses to ease. “The whole idea is to find a way to tackle what we call a hardened base of crime,” he said.
The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice worked with Temple University to design and implement a comprehensive process and outcome evaluation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program (CBVP). The program replicated practices associated with some of the most effective recent innovations in violent crime prevention and control, such as Chicago’s CeaseFire and the Boston Gun Project.