It’s Not About the Art; It’s About the Artist

We actually need young people who are bold, willing to challenge conventional thinking, and to break rules, but we also need them to respect others, to rely on logic rather than force, and to appreciate the corrosive effects of violence and exploitation. In short, our communities need powerful and creative young people who want to improve us and not simply to fight us. These should seem like obvious concepts to anyone working around the youth justice system, but it is often surprisingly difficult to implement them in practice.

The Recidivism Trap

Commentary Counting failure is no way to encourage success Jeffrey A. Butts and Vincent Schiraldi Any discussion of criminal justice policy inevitably includes the word “recidivism.” Usually more than once. Recidivism is the reoccurrence of crime among people known to have committed crimes before. At all levels of justice, from local probation offices to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, if we judge the impact of interventions at all, we do so in part by measuring recidivism. In a report we published today with the Harvard Kennedy School, we conclude that recidivism is often the wrong measure. And using it exclusively…

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Legitimacy in Decision Making: Increasing Voter Approval of Municipal Bonds

Legitimacy plays an important role in building trust in government, and legitimacy and trust have been shown to move individual citizens along a continuum of cooperation where mere compliance turns to satisfaction, support, cooperation, and, ultimately, proactive engagement.

Testimony to the New York City Council

Reducing delinquency and youth violence among justice-involved young people is a complicated business. Public safety is best protected when youth justice providers work with young people in their own communities, and when the efforts of courts and children’s services are coordinated with prevention agencies, schools, social services, neighborhood organizations, and faith-based groups.

Foreign Affairs

Jailhouse Blues Nicaragua’s Take on Prison Reform by Jennifer Peirce In 2013, a group of men incarcerated at Nicaragua’s La Modelo prison started a Facebook page. The page, which they maintained via contraband cell phones, began as an effort to publicly document the usually hidden details of their daily lives: bruises from beatings by guards and fellow inmates, emoji-studded and sentimental messages to their wives and girlfriends back home, and the sludgelike food they would cook over oil drums. Since it launched, the page has gained 14,000 followers, who now have some sense of what it is like to live…

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Murders and Robberies in New York City: January-September 2015

Sheyla Delgado and Laila Alsabahi Research & Evaluation Center March 15, 2016 With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New York City Council, the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College is evaluating the Cure Violence model of violence reduction. The Cure Violence model is inspired by the public health approach to violence reduction. It is used in nearly two dozen neighborhoods throughout New York City. As part of that work, the Center obtained and mapped crime incident data disseminated by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). The map portrays criminal incidents reported to NYPD between…

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Violent Crime Rates in U.S. Cities with Populations over 500,000: 1985-2015

Data Source: Violent crimes reported to the Uniform Crime Reports program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, as prepared by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and disseminated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC ( for 1985-2012 as well as data obtained directly from FBI reports for 2013, 2014 and 2015 (preliminary 6-month 2015 figures weighted to represent 12 months). Note: Data presented for all large cities (over 500,000) that reported data nearly consistently to the FBI from 1985 through 2015. Cities omitted due to inconsistent reporting include Chicago, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC), and Honolulu.

Cursing the Darkness

  Jeffrey A. Butts October 18, 2015 Researching the effectiveness of social policies is like pointing a flashlight inside a dark room. You can can only see what passes through the beam of light. Depending on the size of the room and the power of the beam, you may learn relatively little about the entire room. And, whoever holds the flashlight controls what you can learn. Research evidence does not emerge from a pristine and impartial search for truth. The evidence we have today is the fruit of previous research investments made by policymakers and funding bodies with goals, beliefs,…

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