"My main concern is that [politicians] don't care about the details, they just want to have a good sound bite and a good promotional campaign," says Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Jeffrey Butts participated in a panel hosted by the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans, discussing the potential of community-based violence prevention strategies.
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.
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.
A number of cities have implemented or adapted Cure Violence’s strategies to address gun violence in their communities. But to what end? ... A 2020 report by John Jay College on alternatives to policing notes that the work of outreach workers and violence interrupters is “promising but mixed.”
“They should not operate in hostility to law enforcement…but they need to operate almost autonomously,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. “If the neighborhood starts to think that these programs are in cahoots with law enforcement, the young people in the neighborhood will stop talking to the workers.”
New York City's MAP strategy marshaled the talents and energies of residents to improve public safety and build healthy communities working in collaboration with local government and nonprofit partners. The initiative implemented MAP in more than a dozen public housing developments spread across New York City. John Jay College's Research and Evaluation Center worked with NORC at the University of Chicago to assess the design and implementation of MAP by observing operations, interviewing local officials and staff, and surveying residents.
Officials in Kansas City ask for evidence of effectiveness for the Cure Violence approach. A 2017 review of two sites in New York City by John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York found that gun violence rates decreased in the two catchment areas reviewed — gun injuries dropping about 50% in one neighborhood after the Cure Violence program was implemented.
"[Violence interrupters] are from the same streets, grew up in the same areas and had the same experiences as young people and so they just have more access and access means influence," said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "The possibility of influencing someone's behavior and attitude is stronger if you come at them as an equal."
Proponents say that the number of shootings they prevented is difficult to track, and benefits like better community-police relations are hard to quantify. Despite that, a review by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that average monthly shootings decreased 28 percent across CMS sites in the first two years of the effort.
The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (JohnJayREC) partnered with Osborne Association to evaluate the first five years of a program designed to improve relationships between formerly incarcerated fathers and their children.
Jeffrey Butts joined Yuripzy Morgan on WBAL News Radio in Baltimore, where City officials are launching new efforts to reduce community violence.
“The evidence is mixed,” Butts, who led the 2015 review and subsequent research on interrupters, said. “We need to do more studies.”
In 2021, JohnJayREC was asked to test whether the strategies of Fast Track improved crime and violence in the affected areas.
An evaluation from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that a Cure Violence program in New York reduced gun injuries by almost 40 percent...
Cure Violence programs in New York City have become a staple during the de Blasio administration over the years, receiving $34 million in allocations while expanding into 17 precincts in high-crime neighborhoods. A study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2020 found that the drop in shootings over the years coincided with increased use of Cure Violence programs across the city.
Arnold Ventures asked the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to review and summarize the research evidence for policies and programs that reduce community violence without relying on police.
Surveys of New York City public housing residents suggest that changes in some public safety outcomes might be mediated by gains in community well-being, social cohesion, engagement with government, and citizen trust in the competence of government agencies and actors. As communities become more tightly connected and more supported, they may experience gains in public safety.
Sheyla Delgado, deputy director for analytics at John Jay College and a researcher for the Cure Violence evaluation, says the comparisons offer promising evidence in favor of the program’s public health approach to violence reduction. She says what seems to make Cure Violence different from comparable programs that work to reduce violence is that it humanizes all of its participants.
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.
“It makes me sad to see that some of the issues we identified ten years ago are still hindering the effectiveness of the place,” said Jeffrey Butts, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who conducted the earlier evaluation.
As part of an evaluation of the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice collaborated with survey specialists from NORC at the University Chicago to collect data from two probability samples of residents in public housing developments in New York City. One sample of residents came from communities involved in the MAP initiative. A second sample was from statistically matched housing developments not involved in MAP.
Take the Cure Violence program, a core part of CMS. It has proven to be effective in combating gun violence by treating shootings as a public-health issue that can be contained, just like the outbreak of a disease. According to a study from John Jay College, after Cure Violence was implemented in East New York in 2010, the neighborhood saw a 50% drop in gun injuries.
Was the presence of the MAP initiative in some NYCHA developments associated with greater improvements in crime and victimization outcomes compared with the same outcomes in NYCHA developments not involved in MAP? The results presented here do not answer the question in full, but they offer an early look at efforts by the research team to generate more precise answers. Additional analyses are needed to rule out competing explanations and to examine the complex series of relationships among all the study’s variables. Based on the preliminary findings in this report, however, the results of MAP to date may be considered promising.
This second in a series of reports about the evaluation of the New York City Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP). This Evaluation Update: summarizes the goals and methods used to evaluate the Mayor’s Action Plan; describes the quasi-experimental design used to test the outcomes and impacts of MAP as well as the data sources assembled by the research team and how they are used; and portrays a logical framework the research team used initially to identify causal pathways through which various elements of MAP were intended to achieve their desired effect.