"...we see video, we see security video, street cameras, and it gives you the impression that it's increasing."
The pandemic and the social unrest it caused has also played a role. Eight million Americans became first-time gun owners between 2019 and 2021, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York.
"We can't get to the point where we think this level of violence is normal and just grow to accept it. We have to continue to try to push down the numbers."
Police have announced a suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting that left many wounded Tuesday. We discuss the implications of the apparently random gun violence with Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Understanding what work is being done, anything that lets researchers “pull back the curtain,” is important, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
Jeffrey Butts, a researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, likens it to the decades-long — and eventually successful — campaign to end smoking. “So can that strategy be used to reduce the incidence of gun violence? And that’s the big question,” Butts said.
. “It reminds me of the 1990s, in the sense that every incident of violence becomes a major news story,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“The things that cause crime to go up and down are largely societal, structural,” said Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s about employment, poverty rates, drug abuse, types of drug being abused, neighborhood conditions.”
If done properly, restorative justice can foster “the most natural human response to crime — to try to talk things through and resolve the conflict,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Prevention is different than deterrence, and it uses other tools and resources. It lowers risks and builds assets. Risks are obstacles to safety that often metastasize across individuals and increase harm to entire communities, including substance abuse, antisocial peers, unemployment, and family violence.
“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.”
Democrats should cue up a more enlightened sequel full of popular ideas that will make communities safer without resorting to simply locking more Americans up. Think summer jobs for teens. Think funding for drug rehab centers. And yes, maybe think about more money for better-trained police.