Recidivism Reconsidered

Recidivism is not a comprehensive measure of success for criminal justice in general or for community corrections specifically. When used to judge the effects of justice interventions on behavior, the concept of recidivism may even be harmful, as it often reinforces the racial and class biases underlying much of the justice system. We encourage justice systems to rely on more flexible and more responsive outcome measures. Community corrections agencies should encourage policymakers to rely on outcomes related to criminal desistance and the social integration of people on probation or parole. Measures focused on social development and community wellbeing are more useful for evaluating the effects of justice interventions, and they are less likely to distort policy discussions.

Positive Outcomes

Measuring positive outcomes in youth justice requires a shift away from recidivism as the sole indicator of program effectiveness. A youth justice system embracing the PYD approach would gauge its success by tracking positive youth outcomes, such as the formation of strong and supportive relationships, academic engagement, labor market readiness, and improved socio-emotional skills.

Wall Street Journal—‘Interrupters’ Help Reduce Violence in New York City

They have prior criminal records but now aim to resolve neighborhood conflicts before they turn violent. They walk neighborhood streets on a daily basis and use their connections to resolve disputes before they escalate, requiring the police. These “violence interrupters” and their tactics helped to drive down crime in East New York and the South Bronx, two neighborhoods analyzed in a John Jay College of Criminal Justice report.

Repairing Trust

As part of an ongoing evaluation of the Cure Violence strategy, researchers found the program was potentially associated with less support for the use of violence and greater confidence in police. In a series of neighborhood surveys, young men in areas with Cure Violence programs were less likely to use violence to settle personal disputes and more likely to rely on law enforcement.

The Effects of Cure Violence in the South Bronx and East New York, Brooklyn

Promising evidence that the public health approach to violence reduction championed by Cure Violence may be capable of creating safe and healthy communities.
“A recent evaluation of the NYC program is perhaps most convincing. It was a very sophisticated analysis, done by experienced researchers using police data, hospital data, interviews and surveys. It showed not only reductions in shootings by up to 63 percent, and a change in norms (towards rejecting the use of violence). It also showed that the program resulted in an increase in confidence in police. We’ve heard from several people that this study convinced them even more that the Cure Violence approach really worked.” – Gary Slutkin quoted in the Washington Post – June 18, 2018.

WNYC — Waiting for Violence to Break Out

“We don’t divulge matters that we work hard on to the police, and the police know that about us,” Mitchell said. “We’re not sharing information that may be helpful in some sort of investigation. That’s not or role.” That code of silence lead to the demise of a Cure Violence group in Chicago, according to Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center at John Jay College. “The precinct can feel aggrieved to find out this whole episode of violence that just happened was known, that people knew that it was about to happen and no one told the police,” Butts said.