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Do Violence Interruption Programs Work? Some Critical Perspectives

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Safe Streets is a program of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE)

Today on Midday, a conversation about the violence that persists on our city’s streets, and what can be done about it.

Last week, four children were injured when gun fire erupted in a largely blighted block of North Milton Avenue in the Broadway East neighborhood. One girl was 17, two girls were 14 year old twins. The other victim was a 12 year old boy. They were among the more than 500 people who have been injured in shootings in our city so far this year. Two hundred forty-five people have been killed in our city.

Over the summer, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott published his Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan, the product of community meetings and an multi agency approach that treats violence as a public health issue, and seeks to engage the community in addressing it. As I mentioned at the top of the show, the Mayor is convening his Group Violence Reduction Strategy partners for the first time this afternoon.

At the heart of these efforts is a push for prevention. Programs that employ Violence Interrupters — groups like Safe Streets and Roca — will be expanded. Other, similar community based programs will be developed. Funding will be increased.

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Professor Jeffrey Butts, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)

What do we know about the efficacy of these programs? When a Safe Streets outreach worker intervenes in a dispute and turns people who are arguing about something away from violent resolution of the conflict, is that something that can be tracked and quantified easily? It’s hard to collect data on events that haven’t happened.

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Amos Gelb is publisher, LaTrina Antoine is editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Witness and DC Witness online criminal justice monitors.

Today on Midday, a discussion about the effectiveness of violence interruption programs. Tom is joined by three people who collect data about this and study the issue from different perspectives.

Dr. Jeffrey Butts is a Research Professor and the Director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He joins us on Zoom…

Amos Gelb is the director of the Washington Media Institute, and the publisher of Baltimore Witness and DC Witness, organizations that track those accused of violent crimes through the judicial system. He joins us on Zoom as well…

And LaTrina Antoine. She is the editor-in-chief of Baltimore Witness and DC Witness, and focuses on data and the reporting that her staff does about violence and the court system. She also joins us on Zoom…

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.
Rob is Midday's senior producer.