Chicago’s CeaseFire program is bolstering its efforts to reach women and girls who are caught up in the city’s violent street lif, reports the Chicago Tribune. The strategy marks a shift for the organization, which historically has worked with men, the primary offenders and victims of crime.
Over the last five years, CeaseFire has doubled the number of female outreach workers as daily contacts with women grew. It also wants to increase its number of female “violence interrupters” — the workers who try to mediate street disputes before they turn deadly. The strategy has been put on hold while CeaseFire awaits word on whether it will receive state funding. In the last month, it has laid off 150 workers statewide. On the street, CeaseFire workers say they have seen the role of women change — from peacemakers to participants in violence.