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.
“The Brooklyn recovery seems more striking than other boroughs,” Dr. Butts said. “The Brooklyn spike is horrendous when you look at it over time. But the most recent quarter, the data point is back to where it’s been bouncing around for the past 15 years.”
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.
“Shooting trends in New York City remain a serious concern, but these quarter-specific, one-year differences declined for three straight quarters,” researchers Jeffrey Butts and Richard Espinobarros write.
Sheyla Delgado, deputy director of analytics for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center, has studied Cure Violence programs in New York City for the past decade and says they do improve public safety.
“Sadly, I’ve dedicated my life to using facts and data to influence crime policy. I don’t think we’re any better at it than we were 30 years ago,” Butts said. He has seen both Democrats and Republicans try to use crime stats to scare voters. It’s hard to stop them because “politics was way out ahead of information and the facts.”
Jeffrey Butts was interviewed by NBC News for a story about community-based violence prevention efforts in New York City.
Progressive-minded criminologists like Roman or Butts are boosters of community antiviolence intervention programs such as the Cure Violence model, in which more mature people from the neighborhood work as “violence interrupters” and seek to mediate disputes or defuse tensions before they get out of hand.