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.
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.
Violent crimes committed by juveniles rose a precipitous 64 percent from 1980 to 1994 according to a March 2002 study by the Urban Institute’s Jeffrey Butts and Jeremy Travis. This figure includes forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, but to underscore the horror of this era, arrests for murder alone “jumped 99 percent during that time.”
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.
Causal relationships are difficult to identify in complex and multi-part initiatives, but New York City’s falling rate of gun violence suggests that recent community initiatives may have helped to sustain previous gains.
Those supportive of reform may be quick to reverse themselves out of fear of being cast as soft on crime, so new initiatives need to be protected with solid evidence. If a city wanted to radically reduce expenditures on policing, Butts said, “I would totally back it, but I would be terrified we would squander all the good energy by not being fully prepared.”
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.
As Jeffrey Butts, director of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice research and evaluation center in New York City, noted four years ago, “the public health approach of [Cure Violence] CV currently merits the label ‘promising’ rather than ‘effective.’” “CV, however, offers something to communities that other well-known violence reduction models cannot,” he added. “It is potentially very cost-efficient, and it places less demand on the political and administrative resources of law enforcement and the larger criminal justice system. “