Project Safe Neighborhoods, the federal effort aimed at reducing gun violence, helped bring the homicide total down 37 percent in a target area in Chicago, a researcher reported this week. Andrew Papachristos of the University of Chicago told the National Institute of Justice’s annual research conference in Washington, D.C., that murders dropped much more sharply in the “safe neighborhoods” area than in another high-crime district that was not part of the federal program. Project Safe Neighborhoods is being overseen by U.S. Attorneys nationwide in conjunction with local police and prosecutors as well as federal agents.
The most effective part of Chicago’s program has been meetings with offenders, including parolees, in which authorities threaten prosecution of repeat offenses and offer services such as job training and drug treatment. Higher sentences given to offenders in federal cases did not have an impact on the crime total, apparently because there were so few federal cases, compared with the state total. Criminologist Edmund McGarrell of Michigan State University, who also is evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods, said the strategy of federal and state officials collaborating closely on investigations and prosecutions of gun crimes was having an impact in various cities. More information about the evaluations can be seen at this Web site: http://www.cj.msu.edu/~outreach/psn/