In 2013, the McCormick Foundation commissioned a quantitative and a qualitative evaluation of the 2012/2013 CeaseFire illinois/Cure Violence program in four target police beats in two Chicago neighborhoods, North Lawndale (Police District 10) and Woodlawn (Police District 3). CeaseFire Illinois is the Illinois program partner for Cure Violence, a global health approach to violence prevention.
The quantitative portion of the report was prepared by David Henry, Ph.D., Professor of the Division of Health Policy and Administration in the Department of Psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago.
The qualitative portion of the report was prepared by Deborah Gorman Smith, Ph.D., and Franklin Cosey-Gay of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Deborah Gorman-Smith is a Professor at U of C in the School of Social Service Administration and director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention, one of six national Academic Centers of Excellence funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Key Findings (Quantitative)
- CeaseFire intervention in the targeted districts was associated with a 31% greater decrease in homicides, 1% greater decrease in total violent crimes (including domestic violence), and a 19% greater decrease in shootings as compared to districts that did not receive intervention.
- CeaseFire intervention had a significant positive effect on levels of homicide, shootings, and total violent crime; these effects are significantly greater than the effects that would be expected given the declining trends in crime in the city as a whole.
- The evidence from this quantitative analysis does not support the contention that effects associated with the City contract were due instead to increased police activity. (One type of analysis controlled for overall levels of police activity and another compared effects in the intervention districts to overall effects in other districts.)
- This evaluation adds to a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of CeaseFire intervention, in combination with police presence, for reducing homicide, shootings, and violent crime generally in higher risk neighborhoods.
- The differences in levels of total violent crime, shootings, and homicides appeared within the first month after initiation of the City contract, which provides support for the overall strength of the Cure Violence/Ceasefire approach in reducing violent crime.
Key Findings (Qualitative)
- Consistent across all of the qualitative interviews conducted with CeaseFire high-risk participants were individual reports of decreased involvement in crime and violence, with change in behavior attributed to mentoring, primarily around opportunities for employment.
- High-Risk residents (clients and non-clients) described Ceasefire as a credible community asset primarily due to the staff’s cultural capital of a similar life experience as high-risk residents (i.e. “They lived the life I live”) and strong familial and community social connections. The staff’s capital served to engage high-risk residents to listen and respect their conflict mediation methods.
- Ceasefire staff’s impact went beyond the interruption of violence by also interrupting the extreme isolation that the high-risk residents experienced due to the high levels of exposure to violence. “Ceasefire taught me that life is more than the block. I can be bigger than the block”.
- Many participants stated that CeaseFire has had a positive impact on their lives whether it was with job opportunities, social organizations, safer communities, education, mentoring of youth, etc.