At least 30 cities will participate in an unorthodox crime-fighting program that relies on persuasion, rather than arrests, to cut down on criminal behavior, reports the Wall Street Journal. The initiative, run by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, targets violent crime and open-air drug markets. The program, the National Network for Safe Communities, is potentially controversial because it involves not prosecuting known offenders if they agree to quit their criminal activities.
The program, to be unveiled Monday at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will be used in Boston, Cincinnati, High Point, N.C., Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Providence, R.I., among other places. Developed by David Kennedy, a John Jay criminologist, the crime program combines elements of initiatives run in the 1990s in Boston and in High Point in 2004 that were credited with helping reduce youth gang and drug violence. The goals are to cut violence in neighborhoods where it has remained high despite drops nationally; lower tension between police and minority communities; shut down open-air drug markets and reduce incarceration rates.