Cincinnati’s plan to cut gun violence could hit its key phase in July: face-to-face meetings between Cincinnati criminals, their grandmothers, and other influential people, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. The most important part of the project will be involvement by neighborhood residents and their insistence not only that violence is wrong, but also “that the community needs it to stop,” said criminologist David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The Cincinnati initative is similar to Kennedy’s “Boston miracle” project that helped cut homicides there in the 1990s.
In some communities in Cincinnati, Kennedy said, the violence will continue “until their own say to them, ‘There is no excuse for this. We know you’re better than this. We didn’t raise you like this.’ ” That word has to come not only from grandmothers, he said, but elders on their blocks, old ex-convicts, mothers of murdered children, and mothers of killers. Their message will be delivered something like this: About 20 “gang bangers” – one each from previously identified groups that are known to commit murders – will be called to a meeting by their parole or probation officers. They’ll be told to carry the message back to the others they hang out with. They’ll be asked what help they want to get out of the criminal life. The program doesn’t focus on big, highly public crackdowns, which Kennedy called old thinking that hasn’t worked. Gang leaders will be told that if they don’t leave the life, they will face a more-organized network of local, state and federal law enforcers. Kennedy described the idea as not a miracle, but rather a combination of new thinking, common sense, and work. The Cincinnati City Council plans to spend $353,000 to support the initiative.