This new report from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) looks at reentry efforts police are involved with based primarily on the Boston Ceasefire Program, which do show some promise anecdotally, but rigorous evaluation so far shows little success—a failure consistent with reentry of all types—as we noted in a recent Lampstand Newsletter.
In the initial roll-out of this type of effort in Boston, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Stockton, New Haven, and Portland, some significant results were scored, some seeing murder rates dropping 60% or more.
But then, as Kennedy (2011) writes:
“They were all falling apart.
“Not literally all of them. Some were healthy, even thriving. But in some of our best cities, the work was dead or dying. Minneapolis was done. Anthony and I had turned things over to PERF and the city, and within a couple of years it was as if it had never happened. [In] Indianapolis…things were unraveling there; it too would essentially go away altogether. “Stockton would soon follow; Operation Peacekeeper was healthy, and effective, until a new gang commander discontinued the call-ins and the interagency meetings. The SACSI interventions dissolved in New Haven and Portland. In all of them, the killing went back up.
“Worst of all, Ceasefire was dead in Boston…In 1998 there were fifteen youth homicides in Boston; in 1999, there were fifteen. In 2000, there were twenty-six. Overall homicide had continued to fall under Ceasefire, down to thirty-one in 1999; it went to forty in 2000, more than doubled to sixty-eight in 2001…The killing would soon be at almost pre-Ceasefire levels. (Kennedy, D. M. (2011). Don’t shoot: One man, a street fellowship, and the end of violence in inner-city America. New York: Bloomsbury. pp. 122-123)
Wikipedia (2012) validates this and note that the Boston Ceasefire is the paradigm of all of the other programs:
“Violence was particularly concentrated in poor inner-city neighborhoods including Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. There were 22 youths (under age 24) killed in Boston in 1987, with that figure rising to 73 in 1990. Operation Ceasefire entailed a problem-oriented policing approach, and focused on specific places that were crime hot spots. Focus was placed on two elements of the gun violence problem, including illicit gun traffickingand gang violence.
“Within two years of implementing Operation Ceasefire in Boston, the number of youth homicides dropped to ten, with one handgun-related youth homicide occurring in 1999 and 2000. Youth homicides later climbed again with 37 in 2005 and reaching a peak of 52 in 2010.”
An excerpt from the NIJ report
“The past generation has witnessed a number of significant changes in the American approach to the twin challenges of reducing crime and administering justice. Arguably the two most important changes in the American criminal justice landscape have been the evolving role of the police and the use of incarceration as a response to crime, which brought with it the subsequent release of millions of people from prison. Much has been written about modern American policing and prisoner reentry individually, yet the intersection of the two has received relatively little attention. This paper explores this intersection and makes the case that there is a role for the police in the prisoner reentry movement.
“An obvious place to begin is with the question: Why should the police care about prisoner reentry? We know that recidivism rates of people returning from prison to their communities remain frustratingly high, we know that people who cycle in and out of prison commit a disproportionate amount of crime, and we know that in a world of declining resources, police departments continue to be challenged to do more with less. For these reasons, among others, the police should be fully engaged in local prisoner reentry efforts.”