"My main concern is that [politicians] don't care about the details, they just want to have a good sound bite and a good promotional campaign," says Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Jeffrey Butts participated in a panel hosted by the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans, discussing the potential of community-based violence prevention strategies.
Understanding what work is being done, anything that lets researchers “pull back the curtain,” is important, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
“The things that cause crime to go up and down are largely societal, structural,” said Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s about employment, poverty rates, drug abuse, types of drug being abused, neighborhood conditions.”
Prevention is different than deterrence, and it uses other tools and resources. It lowers risks and builds assets. Risks are obstacles to safety that often metastasize across individuals and increase harm to entire communities, including substance abuse, antisocial peers, unemployment, and family violence.v
New York City officials responded to adverse conditions in NYCHA developments by launching the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety in 2014. The initiative was designed to enhance the social and physical environment of housing developments in ways that improve public safety.
Jeffrey Butts joined Yuripzy Morgan on WBAL News Radio in Baltimore, where City officials are launching new efforts to reduce community violence.
Jeffrey Butts joins Amos Gelb and LaTrina Antoine with WYRP host Tom Hall in a discussion about the effectiveness of violence interruption programs.
I often wonder, how did we get here — ending August with 357 homicides, on track to be our deadliest year recorded for shooting deaths?... Other cities, like New York and Oakland, Calif., have been where we are today but made improvements. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A report published last year by John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center, authored by a diverse group of academic consultants, lays out a framework for action I believe we can apply in Philadelphia.
“The evidence is mixed,” Butts, who led the 2015 review and subsequent research on interrupters, said. “We need to do more studies.”
Jeffrey Butts said that while he is encouraged by1 the Biden administration's public commitment to gun violence research, long hobbled by years of underfunding at the federal level, more attention needs to be paid to community-based programs that don't rely on police intervention.
New York City’s Cure Violence programs found shootings and gun injuries dropped in two neighborhoods where such programs were in place between 2013 and 2017, according to an evaluation led by Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"Researchers can at least eliminate possible explanations. So, you can look at data and test hypotheses. One hypothesis that has been around (you alluded to it) is that it’s somehow related to Defunding the Police. So, there have been researchers who have looked at police budgets, and changes from year to year... and there’s really no relationship there.”
Even during periods of relatively low violence, the incidence of violent behavior by and among young people is a prominent issue. Policymakers and communities always need effective methods of addressing violent acts by youth.
Butts cautioned against inferring cause and effect or making substantial policy changes in response to what could turn out to be a temporary variation. The wide range of communities in which increases in homicides occurred indicates the trend has relatively little to do with local policies and conditions.
Recording of a webinar for the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators in December 2020. Two parts: Presentation and Q&A that follows.
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.
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.
“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."
Presentation by Center directors at a reception at John Jay College in conjunction with the 2019 Smart on Crime conference.
Such notions, says Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, may skew the violence-intervention focus too far into short-term preventive tactics driven by law enforcement.
When someone tells you "what the research says" about how to reduce crime and violence, try to remember they're describing the research base as it was created by people and organizations with opinions, values, and self-interest.
A seminar with the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Speakers explored juvenile diversion practices and policies, their costs, and benefits. Watch the entire seminar. Review the agenda. https://youtu.be/onKL6bgq9Fc
Good researchers want to know a lot about the program or policy they are evaluating before expressing a preference for a particular research design. If your research partner tries to convince you to support a particular evaluation design before you are sure they understand your situation and your information needs, you are probably working with someone in sales, not research. Get a new partner.
“You lost 50lb. You gained back a couple. You’re not fat,” Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said in 2016, in response to the 2015 uptick. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at your behavior, because the trend is not good.”