Joseph Dule University of New Haven
Boston pioneered a focused deterrence strategy in the 1990s, to reduce high rates of youth and gang violence. Initially, Boston’s “Operation Ceasefire” working group conducted problem analysis. This research revealed approximately 60% of Boston homicides were gang related, and that both the perpetrators and victims of violence were highly criminal—i.e., they possessed criminal records and were typically known (often by-name) by the Boston Police Department (BPD). Accordingly, the intervention aimed to “communicate incentives and disincentives directly to known high risk chronic offenders” (Corsaro & Engel, 2015). To accomplish this, BPD conducted “call in” sessions with chronic offenders—often those who were out on parole—to make them aware that violence would not be tolerated (Kennedy et al., 2001). The BPD message was simple: if you commit violence, then every legal lever possible will be pulled to ensure that you will be held accountable. Further, not only will violence not be tolerated, but if one person in the group commits violence, then “heat” from the BPD will be brought on to the entire group (Kennedy, 2011).
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