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Different ways of addressing violence across the state

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Fixing up abandoned homes can help reduce the gun violence plaguing U.S. cities, including Chicago, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors found that areas with full remediation, which includes installing functioning doors and windows and clearing away trash and weeds, showed significant reductions in gun assaults (down 13%), weapons violations (down 8.4%) and shootings (down 7%). […]

In long-disinvested neighborhoods where abandoned houses are numerous, “the neighbors know that nobody cares about this place and all your illicit things can go down in there,” said Kanoya Ali, housing coordinator for Chicago CRED, the gun violence-reduction program co-founded by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“In today’s lingo, they’re called trap houses,” Ali said. “You hide your guns in there. You do drugs in there, prostitution. Runaways think they can survive in an abandoned house.”

The study is here.

* Sobering news from Rockford

The number of domestic violence cases continues to rise annually in Rockford.

A group at Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N Court St., is responding to the mayor’s public call to action, trying to let people know that there are resources out there if they are in need of help. […]

The solution is something that Rockford leaders are focusing on right now. Nearly 40% of the city’s violent crime comes from domestic violence. Counselors said that the number should actually be higher, considering that survivors will endure six to eight incidents of abuse on average before seeking help.

But

Rockford leaders partner with several area organizations on programs to reduce crime across the area and make the forest city a better place to live.

The city of Rockford shared a list of programs it’s launched that are geared towards reducing violent crime. I spoke with leaders behind those initiatives to find out how they plan to make Rockford a better place to live.

“It’s for individuals who’ve been released from parole or probation and are deemed as high risk by evidence of a risk that needs assessment,” said Mirlana Dokken, the chairman’s office criminal justice initiative director.

Between October 2021 and October 2022, violent crimes in Rockford dropped 4% - the number of shots fired calls fell 11%. Dokken credits that reduction to programs like Project Safe Neighborhood.

* Peoria

The Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service is reviving a program to help divert young people with misdemeanors away from violence.

The Peoria Peacekeepers Network is a restorative justice program bringing together young offenders with victims, family and community stakeholders to develop a plan to change their path.

“It’s important because, most of the time, they just get a slap on the wrist and this starts a file, it starts a caseload of things they actually have occurred or been involved in,” said Marcellus Sommerville, CEO of the Friendship House. “Usually, when they turn 18 they have a long list, a laundry list of minor offenses but it gets all reviewed and calculated. It’s in the judge’s hands, whereas this program is going to help erase some of those wrongs.”

Somerville says the program is a volunteer program, which means the youth participating have to admit fault. After the admission, they can be referred to the program by the Peoria Police Department or Peoria Public Schools. There is a limited number of offenses that apply for the program, like theft, property damage, disorderly conduct and drug possession.

“We could take on more in terms of higher level offenses,” said Sommerville. “But we’re currently in the state where we want to have minor offenses.”

After the referral, Sommerville says the victim and offender, as well as family and community representatives, are brought together at a meeting called the “peace circle.”

“It’s more like peer pressure, positive peer pressure on the person that’s offended,” said Sommerville. “Helping them better understand mentally what occurred during that process and how can we support both parties and help them come through the situation.”

* Carbondale

A needs assessment report produced by researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been completed and will assist city leaders as they determine how to direct resources to areas in the city most impacted by gun violence and employ evidence-based solutions.

The report provided an analysis of the nature of gun violence in Carbondale and offers recommendations for prevention and intervention initiatives.

Key findings include rising police calls, gun violence being concentrated in small areas and that a significant amount of gun-related incidents in Carbondale stem from a small number of repeat offenders involved in ongoing mutual conflicts.

“The findings didn’t catch us completely by surprise but did give us the data to create immediate and long-term strategies while also reinforcing strategies already in place,” Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said.

       

21 Comments
  1. - Needs Deleted - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 10:13 am:

    Alternatively, you could lock offenders up in prison. That seemed to work years ago. Ba da bing!


  2. - West Wing - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 10:35 am:

    Downstate has an economic problem and lack of job opportunities play into the erosion of communities. Part of the solution is doubling down on economic opportunities.


  3. - Jocko - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 10:54 am:

    ==Alternatively, you could lock offenders up in prison.==

    I know this is intended as snark, but people don’t realize that you’re paying either way. Wouldn’t you rather that money be used constructively rather than destructively?


  4. - Homebody - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 10:54 am:

    Plenty of sociological studies show crime correlates with people feeling abandoned, not part of society, wealth inequality, and people feeling like the system is rigged against them.

    It doesn’t really surprise me that the opposite result also is true: that crime goes down when you do things that suggest society as a whole is interested in and cares about the same portion of society by putting resources into those communities.


  5. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:03 am:

    Surprise…not…nicer neighborhoods have less crime. Neighborhood revitalization matters. But so does locking up bad apples. Solving crime is definitely a both and issue. Those who decry so called mass incarceration are ignoring the mass of victims, sadly in certain communities. Offenders must be caught and held. At the same time making communities more livable for good people who need a lift can happen. Governments can and must do both.


  6. - Sean Noble - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:28 am:

    Smart investments in prenatal-to-3 services, preschool, child care, and afterschool programs put a big dent in violence, too. That’s why 340 Illinois police chiefs, sheriffs, and state’s attorneys participate in the nonprofit, bipartisan organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Law enforcement leaders know - from their own experience and extensive research - that these priorities are highly effective in helping curb crime as well as putting children on a path to success in life.

    www.strongnation.org/locations/illinois/fight-crime-invest-in-kids-illinois


  7. - Blue Dog - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:02 pm:

    Having read the Needs Assessment Report I just hope Carbondale and the University didn’t spend much money. ask any local where the trouble is and you’ll get an answer in less than a minute. As for solutions,I’m sure something evidence based will point to the fact that most of the gun incidents were committed by non-FOID holders.


  8. - Stuck in Celliniland - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:50 pm:

    ==Fixing up abandoned homes can help reduce the gun violence plaguing U.S. cities, including Chicago, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    The authors found that areas with full remediation, which includes installing functioning doors and windows and clearing away trash and weeds, showed significant reductions in gun assaults (down 13%), weapons violations (down 8.4%) and shootings (down 7%). […]==

    Jim Langfelder, are you listening? I thought during your first campaign in 2015 plus early on as Mayor that you said you were going to be more proactive in tearing down abandoned and deteriorating properties in Springfield, including abandoned homes vacant for at least several years. Where has the action been on this?


  9. - Stuck in Celliniland - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:54 pm:

    ==im Langfelder, are you listening? I thought during your first campaign in 2015 plus early on as Mayor that you said you were going to be more proactive in tearing down abandoned and deteriorating properties in Springfield, including abandoned homes vacant for at least several years. Where has the action been on this?==

    Cases in point: a house at Laurel and 1st that appears to have had heavy fire damage since earlier this year, including boarded up and broken windows. Also the old McDonald’s on MacArthur that has been closed since early 2017, still sitting rotting away. And the old Ayerco gas station near South MacArthur and Highland, across from Firestone–closed over 4 years now. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.


  10. - Rural Mom - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:02 pm:

    “ Fixing up abandoned homes can help reduce the gun violence plaguing U.S. cities…”
    The neighborhood I live in has quite a few abandoned houses but had one shooting in ten years. Over the years the city has worked on tearing down or rehabilitating the dilapidated houses. Interestingly, the house directly next to me that had been empty for years and was the eyesore of the block got fixed up, and then there were two shootings in the last two years. No one was ever arrested for either: It’s an inhabited “trap house” that’s gotten worse since it was fixed up and rented out.


  11. - SWIL_Voter - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:10 pm:

    Why are people commenting that we should lock more people up? The “different ways” being referenced here are needed because mass incarceration didn’t, and isn’t working. The current crime “wave” is happening in the context of mass incarceration. We’re doing it and it isn’t working. Hello? We’re the most heavily incarcerated country in the history of earth. We lock up more of our own people than at the height of the Russian gulag system.


  12. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:18 pm:

    In the section about Peoria that talks about the restorative justice and the charges that apply like disorderly conduct, property damage, theft and drug possesion; an apology is a part of the process. I’m just wondering to whom the apology is given for the case of drug possession? The others have obvious victims.

    The big problem with broken windows, is it was used to have the police go after the low level offenses. If, instead, it had been used to offer low-money loans to property holders to renovate or to condemn abandoned property, the policy would not have had nearly the devastation.


  13. - TooManyJens - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:36 pm:

    The carceral mindset that says more and harsher punishment is the answer—and not just for violent crime, either—might as well be designed to produce recidivism.

    When and if someone is convicted of a crime, we basically give up on them as a person. They’re subject to dehumanizing conditions in prison, due in large part to our societal belief that people who commit crimes are fundamentally bad. (Have you ever tried to send a book to someone in prison? Do you know what it costs just to make a phone call to keep in touch with your family?) Then after release, legal discrimination makes it harder for people to get housing and employment and education so they can build a better life. The result is someone who’s less integrated into their community and less able to support themselves legally. In other words, someone who’s more likely to commit crime.

    That’s not to say there aren’t people who’ve turned their lives around after going to prison. Of course there are. But they could have done the same or better under a more rational and human system.

    Communities need—and absolutely deserve—to be protected from violence, but more of the same isn’t going to do it.

    ==No kidding, the “broken windows” theory, which I learned about in class 30 years ago, after it was articulated in what, 1968? ==

    Rehabbing run-down properties and generally investing in neighborhoods is proactive, positive, and constructive. It’s not the same as reactive “broken windows policing,” which is just about more punishment for minor crimes and has all the problems listed above.


  14. - Betty Draper’s cigarette - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:38 pm:

    === Next the owner or neighbor of abandoned property can call the police, and the people there can get a ticket for a later court date, without being removed. Thanks to the sponsors of the SAFE-T act trespassing language. Great work.===

    You’re unaware that whole thing was debunked?


  15. - Betty Draper’s cigarette - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:40 pm:

    === Rehabbing run-down properties and generally investing in neighborhoods is proactive, positive, and constructive.===

    Not only that, isn’t there an affordable housing shortage? People need homes to live in.


  16. - Homebody - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:51 pm:

    == The big problem with broken windows, is it was used to have the police go after the low level offenses. ==

    cermak_rd nails the issue. “Broken windows” theory in the 80s and 90s was about over punishing and over incarcerating for petty offenses. Anyone who claims otherwise now is either ignorant or intentionally distorting the truth.

    The American incarceration and punishment experiment that has been going on for the last 75 years or so has been a complete and utter failure. Maybe instead we could act like almost every other developed peer nation and put our resources towards building things instead?


  17. - Blue Dog - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    does anyone in CapFax land think,other than me, there shoukd be minimum sentencing for felonies committed with guns.


  18. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:01 pm:

    I’m not sure on that one, Blue Dog. Fact is, I’m not a big fan of minimum sentences. The person who is best able to look at the facts of the case, look at the defendant, and decide what is going to work in this case both to protect the victim and to both punish and start rehabilitation in the guilty is the judge. I’m not sure the leg can create minimums that consider all the edge cases.


  19. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:17 pm:

    Blue Dog, good idea.


  20. - SWIL_Voter - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:31 pm:

    Do mandatory minimum sentences work? Do the proponents of this policy even care if they work? “Different ways.” Different. Mandatory minimums is already in the toolbox, and the system is broken.


  21. - TooManyJens - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 4:54 pm:

    == Maybe instead we could act like almost every other developed peer nation and put our resources towards building things instead? ==

    One of the many, many frustrating things about American politics is the absolute refusal of at least one party to learn anything from other countries.


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