Jeffrey Butts, who has done extensive research on cure-violence initiatives, also questioned how far the experiment could go.
CUNY TV’s Diverse City program, hosted by Zyphus Lebrun, visits Port Richmond and neighboring West New Brighton on Staten Island to hear about a program in which former felons work with law enforcement to address the growing levels of gun violence.
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, believes there are productive ways for police and violence interrupters to work together.
“I’m a big fan. I think [Cure Violence is] a very valuable asset for a community to have,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research Evaluation Center at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has observed Cure Violence programs in New York, New Orleans and Philadelphia. “But it’s definitely possible to do it poorly.”
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.
Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay, said access to weapons among young men inured to violence and living in poverty can lead to deadly results. “Think about yourself and some dumb things you did when you were a teenager,” said Butts. “And then imagine living in Brownsville and walking around with a pistol in your pocket all the time. You’re 17 years old, you think you’re invulnerable, and you pull that weapon out.”
In five communities, survey respondents report a number of potentially valuable improvements, and the results imply that the cities involved in the National Forum may be increasing opportunities for youth and improving the extent to which violence prevention approaches draw upon the perspectives and expertise of a broad range of community members. There are also indications that some cities are developing better overall capacity to reduce youth violence, and that local perceptions of law enforcement efficacy may be improving.
“It’s what any parent of a 14-year-old faces every summer: How are we going to fill up this time?’’ said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “It makes sense to have multiple approaches because there is no single answer.’’