Are Chicago Ceasefire’s Claims Of Success A Stretch?


The New York Times story summarized Monday in Crime & Justice News that examines a “violence interruption” program in Chicago is critiqued by John Buntin of Governing magazine. The Times story strongly suggests that the Chicago “Ceasefire” program is a breakthrough, one deserving widespread attention and emulation, Buntin says. He says “the sweeping claims (Times writer Alex) Kotlowitz makes for Chicago’s program – that violence is a virus and that Chicago’s “Ceasefire” program is, very possibly, the cure – both strike me as a stretch,” and that the article “muddies the water about what researchers know about what does work.”

The Chicago program relies largely on fifty-year-old ex-cons – men often two generations removed from the men they’re dealing with. In contrast, street workers in Boston’s Operation Ceasefire tend to be in their twenties and thirties. Buntin notes that rigorous evaluation wasn’t built into the Chicago program’s design. Another antiviolence program running in Chicago, Project Safe Neighborhoods, cited a 35 percent-plus reduction in homicide, better than Ceasefire’s.


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