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. Cure Violence recently conducted an analysis of one potential factor – the level of implementation of the Cure Violence (CeaseFire) program in Chicago – looking at the time and place of the increase and how it coincides with cuts to the CeaseFire program.
As the analysis shows, increase in shootings and killings in Chicago began in early 2015 and coincide in time with the cut in state funding of CeaseFire in March 2015 that resulted in the closure of most of the sites and a laying off of most of the workers. Before the cut, CeaseFire programs were operating in 14 communities in Chicago with 71 workers and averaging 81 mediations per month. After the cut, there was only one full site and 3 partial sites with 10 workers.
The districts where the CeaseFire programs were cut are the districts where violence increased the most, accounting for 94% of the total citywide increase in shootings. In particular, the 11th district—where CeaseFire operated its longest running program with 10 experienced staff before the cut—were two times greater than the district with the next highest total. This staff was ediating an average of 10 high risk conflicts per month before the cut. The 4th district was the only district that had reductions in shootings and killings (57 fewer shootings and 6 fewer homicide than the mean baseline). The 4th district is also the location of the only CeaseFire program that had full staffing after the cut in funding. These workers are mediating an average of 17 conflicts per month, which independent evaluations have surgested is a key element to reducing shootings and killings. There are several other control methods as well that are required to have a full program.
And this isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2004, there was a tripling of Cure Violence coinciding with a 25% decrease in shootings and killings, and in 2008 and 2012 cuts to the program coincided with large increases in violence in 2007-8 and 2011-2. Additionally, when funding was restored in 2008 and 2012, violence dropped to previous lower levels. In total, at six distinct points the level of violence changed when Cure Violence implementation changed. This analysis, along with data on effect sizes from independent evaluations, demonstrates that there is an inverse orrelation between the level of implementation of the Cure Violence model and the level of shootings and killings in Chicago. Further, it suggests that expanding the Cure Violence model to all areas with high rates of lethal violence in Chicago could dramatically reduce homicides to less than 350 per year and possibly less 200.