WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
A game plan for reducing violence without the police. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice convened a panel of cross-disciplinary experts to review non-law enforcement strategies for preventing community violence. In a report released on Monday, the panel argues that for decades politicians have overinvested in policing and prisons through a deterrence model that says crime is best prevented by punishing illegal acts. “If deterrence were entirely sufficient to prevent violence and ensure public safety, the United States would undoubtedly enjoy one of the lowest rates of community violence in the world,” the 40-page report reads. As an alternative, the panel offers seven evidence-based strategies for reducing crime, including:
- Expanding violence interruption and hospital-based intervention programs that target those most at risk of being perpetrators or victims of violence
- Passing comprehensive gun reform, including limits on access to firearms for those who may commit violence
- Lessening harmful impacts of the criminal justice system by minimizing prosecution of minor misdemeanors, reducing juvenile detention, and making police departments more transparent
- Mitigating financial stress by expanding opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, bolstering social welfare spending, and providing low-income families with housing subsidies
“Policymakers usually want programs that work fast, so they rely on law enforcement, but studies of police intervention rarely assess their potential to cause harm,” said panel expert Caterina Gouvis Roman, a criminologist at Temple University. For more details and the full set of recommendations, read the report here.
NEW from THE TRACE: As suicides among Black residents continue to climb, Chicago officials sound the alarm. This summer, my colleague Lakeidra Chavis was the first to report on a rise in suicides among Black residents of Cook County, home to Chicago. The trend has since continued, nearing a 10-year high as of November 8. Now, city officials have issued a public health alert warning that suicides among Black Chicagoans have increased by more than 40 percent in 2020 when compared to a four-year average from 2016 through 2019. The notice also found that Black residents had higher rates of hospitalization for suicide attempts compared to last year, even though overall visits to the emergency department declined during the pandemic. You can read Lakeidra’s follow-up here. [If you or someone you know if struggling with mental health, the following resources are available for free, 24/7: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.]
Militia activity surged in 2020. It (mostly) didn’t translate to local electoral wins. Reporting this year unearthed a small trend of militia-allied candidates for office, primarily in the American West. The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, an extremism watchdog, tracked how far-right candidates performed in federal, state, and local elections last Tuesday. Of the 10 militia-allied candidates it observed in state and local races, four won office — all of them in Idaho, where militia activity is prevalent.
The Guns & America project is coming to an end. The two-year-long national reporting collaborative involved fellows at 10 public radio stations and yielded more than 500 articles — including a recent series on efforts to solve a gun suicide epidemic in the Mountain West. The project is also behind two recent podcasts — No Compromise, a partnership with NPR about the brothers behind a far-right gun network; and Gun Play, a partnership with KERA that follows a youth theater company as it crafts a play about gun issues.
The market jumped on news of a COVID-19 vaccine. Gun stocks were an exception. The plummeting of the three leading publicly traded firearm companies replicated a pattern from last Wednesday when the prospect of a united Democratic government became more unlikely. Demand for firearms typically spikes after pro-gun reform politicians are elected to office. This year, sales surged amid fears of civil unrest related to the pandemic.