August 24, 2010
GUNS AND YOUTH VIOLENCE
By: Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II
You asked what initiatives Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington D.C. have to reduce youth access to guns and educate them on how to cope with difficult situations without resorting to violence.
The initiatives in this report are not an exhaustive list of the programs in each city. The initiatives are simply examples of what these cities are attempting or have already done to curb youth access to guns and violence in general.
University of Chicago Crime Lab
The University of Chicago Crime Lab, in partnership with the city, is working to develop programs to reduce youth crime. Some of the initiatives the crime lab is considering are:
1. examining how recently released, arrested, or detained youths can complete their high school education;
2. providing youth with additional rewards and supports for good behavior;
3. enhancing after-school program options for the highest-risk youths;
4. refining police patrol strategies and the effective use of police observation cameras;
5. boosting community policing efforts; and
6. dealing effectively with security and truancy.
In addition to considering these initiatives, the Chicago Crime Lab has published a report about gun violence among school age youth, available at: http://crimelab.uchicago.edu/pdf/Gun_Violence_Report.pdf. The report provides an overview of some of the Crime Lab's efforts to better understand the problems youths have with guns. (This report prompted the Crime Lab to undertake the Chicago Youth Gun Violence Initiative.)
More information on the Chicago Crime Lab is available at: http://crimelab.uchicago.edu/.
Chicago Youth Gun Violence Initiative
The first phase of the Chicago Youth Gun Violence Initiative involved the solicitation of ideas from city agencies, non-profit and faith based organizations, and private firms about pilot programs to reduce youth gun violence and promote positive youth outcomes. The idea was to fund and implement a program in a similar fashion to a clinical trial in medicine.
The winning entry, Becoming a Man (B.A.M.©), is being implemented and funded by local foundations, corporations, and the federal government. The program will be provided to several hundred adolescent boys at 14 Chicago Public Schools.
B.A.M.© includes a youth guidance program to help youth develop coping skills for managing situations that may lead to violence and other negative outcomes. It also seeks to help adolescent boys learn how to resolve real-world conflicts and overcome the faulty assumption that violence can resolve their problems.
B.A.M.© also includes sports programming. The goal of this program is to help youth learn to compete within the confines of a sport, and to help them learn self-control and accomplishment, while reinforcing many of the conflict resolution skills and social and emotional learning objectives they have learned. The program hopes that through sports, the youths will learn “soft skills” that will help them avoid criminal behavior and succeed in school and the labor market.
More information on B.A.M.© is available at: http://crimelab.uchicago.edu/gun_violence/Winning%20Entry%20BAM%20Sports%20Edition.shtml.
Los Angeles modeled their version of Operation Ceasefire after Boston's project, which used a combination of sanctions and incentives to reduce youth homicides, specifically targeting gangs.
Operation Ceasefire is designed to work on a small scale, in a selected locale or neighborhood. This provided two benefits: (1) it gave project participants the opportunity to pinpoint more immediate causes of youth violence and (2) it had a greater chance of immediate results.
The key to Operation Ceasefire was the working groups that included researchers, criminal justice agencies, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations, all working together to design and implement an intervention based on “sticks” and “carrots.” Sticks were a range of sanctions or punishments explained to gang members as (1) holding all of them accountable for violence committed by any one of them and (2) resulting in consequences for violent crimes. Carrots were the prevention component, where youths would be given alternatives such as job training and development.
The research team wanted to determine whether the intervention would reduce violent, gang, and gun crime. The results were mixed. Overall, violent crime fell significantly, as did gang crime at first, while gun crime did not decline. The researchers concluded that the collaborative effort of the working groups was the most important factor in crime falling; it also demonstrated that police, prosecutors, probation officers, and community agencies could all work together effectively.
More information on Operation Ceasefire is available at: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/192378.pdf.
Miami-Dade County Youth Crime Task Force
Miami-Dade County has established a Youth Crime Task Force to study the problems of youth crime and weapons. The task force is studying possible solutions to these problems, with an emphasis on crime prevention programs. It also must develop a countywide plan for preventing youth crimes and weapons violence. Also, the task force must recommend guidelines and criteria for a competitive solicitation process for allocating funds for youth crime prevention funding.
The following are programs the task force funds.
12 and Under Project. This project provides services to identified high-risk boys with “special issues and needs.” The program replicates the SNAP™ Program, an empirically-based model intervention developed by the Child Development Institute, Toronto, Canada, for boys under 12 years of age in conflict with the law and their families. This project is part of a National Demonstration Project with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Family Intervention Services (FIS). FIS provides community- and home-based functional family therapy, targeting children under age 17, who are diverted from Juvenile Court and under the supervision of the Juvenile Services Department.
Improving Community Control (ICC). ICC is for adjudicated youths under age 18 under Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Community Control. It is designed to improve self-esteem, school performance, and pro-social bonding, which is done through group, individual, and family counseling sessions.
Juvenile Weapons Offender Program (JWOP). JWOP is for youths under age 18 adjudicated on non-violent weapons charges. An offender is confronted with the traumatic physical, emotional, and financial consequences of violence on victims and their families. Individual and family supportive factors are emphasized.
Post Detention Girls' Program (PDGP). PDGP is a program for young women age 11-18 released from detention to Community Control or aftercare under the supervision of the Department of Justice that teaches social, vocational, economic, and family skills.
Serious Habitual Offender - Sibling Model Program (SHOSib). SHOSib is an intense family strengthening intervention plan for what are often identified as multi-generational, criminal justice-involved families that historically do not respond to normal interventions. It involves (1) identifying younger siblings of serious, habitual offenders who are beginning to get involved in the juvenile justice system and (2) providing intervention services for them and the rest of the family. The Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department, a research partner in this model program, provides training to the organization implementing this model.
More information about the Miami-Dade County Youth Crime Task Force is available at: http://www.miamidade.gov/grants/youth_crime_program.asp.
NEW YORK CITY
Operation S.N.U.G. is a New York State initiative to cut down on illegal guns and gang violence in cities across the state, including New York City. A $4 million grant from the state will be evenly distributed to eight communities across the state. The initiative will allow qualified community-based organizations to apply for the grant through a competitive bidding process.
Operation S.N.U.G. will help local law enforcement and anti-violence community groups engage in tactics to steer at-risk youth from the culture of gangs and illegal guns. The program directs very targeted outreach and prevention efforts to “high risk” communities, and works through existing and experienced community-based organizations. It will also help in coordinating the efforts of police, counselors, and community outreach specialists.
S.N.U.G. stands for:
S: Street intervention and stopping the violence
• outreach to high-risk youth
• support for and coordination with police and law enforcement
• clearly communicating community values against shootings and violence
• engaging schools and educators as part of the solution
N: National, state and local funding support
• funding for all alternatives
• legislation to help implement solutions
• public and private support for intervention and prevention as part of the response
U: Use of celebrities and centers
• development of a comprehensive public relations effort, including celebrity PSAs and materials
• reopening and revitalization of existing community centers, creation of community “safe haven” storefronts for youth
G: Gangs, guns, gainful employment
• real-world gang awareness and prevention initiatives
• new efforts to stop the spread of illegal guns, including new law enforcement efforts targeting “middlemen” and gun-running
• connections to employment and economic alternatives.
More information on Operation S.N.U.G. is available at: www.operationsnug.org.
We were unable to find any city initiative that dealt specifically with youths and guns. There were, however, several programs and initiatives that dealt with guns in general.
Firearm Tip Reward Program
This program allows a person to call a hotline if he or she knows of someone who possesses an illegal gun or where it is hidden. Rewards are paid for tips that result in firearm recovery and/or arrest. The reward amount depends on the number and type of firearm recovered and if an arrest was made. Tips are assigned an unique number (to ensure anonymity), which must be kept in order to receive the reward.
This program grants amnesty to a person or organization who voluntarily and peacefully delivers or abandons any firearm, destructive device, or ammunition. Delivery under this section may be made at any police station or by summoning a police officer to the person's residence or place of business. The firearm must be unloaded and securely wrapped in a package (D.C. Official Code § 7-2507.05 (a)).
Project ChildSafe allows registered firearms owners to receive free gun locks in order to raise awareness of firearms safety.
More information on Washington D.C. Police programs is available at: