A rigorous test of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety indicates that New York City’s effort to improve the safety of public housing communities was beginning to show benefits by the end of 2019 and could be considered a promising intervention.
In a podcast interview with the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, JohnJayREC director, Jeffrey Butts, discussed gun violence prevention and the need to maintain a balanced evidence base.
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.
Policymakers, advocates, and even some researchers claim that youth confinement rates across the United States dropped in recent years due to changes in policy and practice. Such claims remain unproven, but voters and elected officials are inclined to accept them as factual because they are offered by reputable agencies and repeated in news media sources. Without reliable evidence, however, the notion that state-level youth confinement rates fall primarily in response to progressive policy reforms is merely appealing rhetoric.
The entire increase in drug crime arrests during the past decade was due to growing numbers of arrests involving adults ages 25 and older. Youth under age 18 and even young adults under age 25 were far less likely to be arrested for drug crimes in 2018 than any time in the past two decades.
Quality youth justice systems (a) limit the use of confinement to cases where it is objectively necessary, (b) ensure the health and safety of all confined youth, (c) provide effective treatments and developmentally appropriate programming, and (d) continually monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. These goals apply to all forms of secure confinement regardless of financing or organizational configuration.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting series tracks violent crime trends using the four offenses of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. According to the FBI, youth arrests for these offenses grew one percent between 2016 and 2017.
Policymakers and practitioners in the justice sector should consider evaluation research as a portfolio of strategic investments in knowledge development. Randomized controlled trials are merely one asset in a broader investment strategy.