10 Reasons Chicago’s Skyrocketing Violence Can Be Linked to Cuts in Funding to CeaseFire

There has been a well document increase in shootings and killings in Chicago in 2016 – with August 2016 designated the deadliest month in Chicago in almost 20 years and the projection for the end of year total predicting the deadliest year in at least 10 years. While the 2016 levels have skyrocketed to record levels, the increasing trend actual began in the spring of 2015. The timing and place of this increase coincides exactly with the cuts to the CeaseFire program. Here are ten reasons why these cuts are the best explanation for the increase in violence in Chicago:

1.     Time: The steep uptick in numbers of shootings in Chicago neighborhoods occurred within weeks of CeaseFire programs being shut down.  The increase in violence started immediately after interrupters and outreach workers were laid off.chicago_2015-6_vioepidemic

2.     Long-term Downward Trend: Since 2012, shootings and killings were steadily trending down before the CeaseFire program was cut. After the cuts, that trend immediately reversed course and violence started to increase again.

3.     Place – Cuts: In 2015 and 2016, the increase in killing occurred in districts where the CeaseFire program had been active, but was cut.  Killings
increased the most in the 11th district where the CeaseFire program had been most effective slide1at reducing killings until funding cuts shut it down.

4.     Place – Still Active: In the sole Chicago community where funding has remained and where CeaseFire workers have continued to interrupt conflicts and prevent killings, violence has remained lower than before CeaseFire came to those neighborhoods.

5.    Previous Correlations: Similar upticks in violence have been seen
twice before in neighborhoods where funds to CeaseFire programs were cut – in 2007-8 and 2011-12. In each of those instances, killings went down as soon as the funds slide2were restored.  The changes occur not only in time but in place (which geographic areas or communities.) In all, since there have been six times when violence either increased or decreased with decreases or increases in CeaseFire implementation – and there have been no times in the last 10 years when fluctuation in shootings and killings citywide have happened that were not correlated to CeaseFire funding levels.

6.     Size of increase (and decrease): Number of shootings and killings in a neighborhood coincide directly with the number of mediation that had previously been occurring in a neighborhood.  For instance, in the 11th district there was an average of 10 mediations per month before the cut, and then 17 months after the cut there was approximately 170 additional shootings in the 11th district.

7.     Evidence on CeaseFire Impact: The Cure Violence model has been evaluated many times with many additional informal analyses, each showing large reductions in violence.  In Chicago, shootings dropped by 41% to 73% in program communities. In Baltimore, homicides were reduced by up to 56% and shootings by up to 44%.  In New York, the rate of gun violence was found to be 20% lower than comparison neighborhoods after implementation of the program.

8.     Evidence on Timing of Impact: The work of CeaseFire is immediate, unlike other violence prevention programs. The workers stop/interrupt events immediately, which prevents downstream related events, mostly retaliatory, from occurring. Two independent evaluators have described this immediate effect in their reports.

9.     Changes in Policing Occurred Later: No other policing changes were happening at the same time. The often-cited LaQuan McDonald video, and subsequent reduction in calls for service, was released 8 months later after the increase started.  While this could have been additive, it could not have been the cause for the initial reversal of the downward trend.

10.  Other Changes Are Much Longer-term Changes: Other reasons given for the recent increase in violence in Chicago, such as the splintering of gangs and their use of social media, or the scattering of families caused by demolition of CHA units do not coincide with the recent uptick in killings. These forces have been at work for more than a decade.

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