Reducing Homicide Through Level-Pulling Strategy

Published in: Justice Quarterly , v. 23, no. 2, June 2006, p. 214-231

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Edmund F. McGarrell, Steven Chermak, Jeremy M. Wilson, Nicholas Corsaro

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The decade of the 1990s witnessed unexpected but welcome large declines in homicide and serious firearms violence. Yet, despite these declines, rates of firearms crime in the United States remain high compared to other western democracies and impose significant costs to society generally and to specific communities particularly. One promising approach to gun crime emerged in Boston during the mid-1990s. This approach combined face-to-face communication of a deterrence message to youth gang members with social service outreach and crackdowns on several gangs. Boston then experienced very significant declines in youth gun crime. This approach was later repeated in Minneapolis with similar promising results. This paper presents the results of a study of a similar gun-crime-reduction effort in Indianapolis. Time-series analyses suggest a significant decline in homicide similar to those observed in Boston and Minneapolis. Comparisons to six similar Midwestern cities revealed that Indianapolis was the only city to experience a significant decline in homicide. The results are discussed in the context of deterrence research and suggest the need to move beyond single-city evaluations of promising interventions.

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