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. “
Based on the latest statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the national violent crime arrest rate declined 38 percent overall between 1988 and 2018, but the steepest declines were observed among youth ages 10 to 14 (–53%) and 15 to 17 (–54%). The arrest rate for 18-20 year-olds dropped 47 percent while the arrest rates for adults ages 21-24 and 25-49 declined 42 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
“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.”
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.
“People have tried to put a number on the cost of a death. If someone is shot — even injured — much less killed, there are policing costs,” Butts told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Someone has to show up to process the scene. There are prison costs for the shooter, and then all the other costs for family who have a person shot and or killed. There’s lifelong trauma, loss of income. You can actually estimate the total cost.”