Ceasefire Gets Much Federal Aid; Research “Promising,” Not Definitive


The Wall Street Journal offers the latest assessment of Ceasefire, the policing method in which young people with prior gang-related charges are brought into meetings where police, prosecutors, social workers and community members show them the harm their violence has caused. The offenders are offered social services, such as career counseling and anger management, and warned of tough punishment if the violence persists. Ceasefire, developed by David Kennedy, now at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, initially gained traction in cities such as Boston and Cincinnati more than a decade ago. Since 2010, the Justice Department has awarded $18 million to help fund it and other “evidence-based” antiviolence programs.

Not everyone is enamored of Ceasefire. Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia University law professor, wrote a 2002 study questioning whether Ceasefire could truly be credited with the reduction in Boston gun violence in the 1990s. Criminologist Lawrence Sherman of the University of Maryland said a recent study by Rutgers University, Yale University and Harvard University researchers documenting success in Boston’s second Ceasefire program that began in 2007 showed “promising” findings. He added that the results “haven’t yet been replicated in other cities,” and he warned against the Justice Department spending more money on Ceasefire until it establishes control groups.

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