Monday, October 31, 2011

The Interrupters

Gary Slutkin is another prevention kid with a great program on the block. Despite Newsweek's yellow journalism alleging conflicts between David Kennedy's and Gary Slutkin's different anti-violence programs (and their eviscerating response), they both have the same goal and similar successes. You say tomato, I say tomahto.

Recall Kennedy uses the justice system, targets high risk populations, collects cases on offenders, and uses the threat of sanctions to intervene.

Slutkin takes the public health approach. He blocks violent outbreaks by targeting high risk offenders and uses community "interrupters". Interrupters are savvy street workers who convince family and friends to help offenders see violence is in no one's best interest.

A new award winning film is out called The Interrupters. It describes a year in the life of violence in Chicago. It's a fascinating documentary about Slutkin's program.

I hope the film - and the program - does well.

Still…getting the right program is only half the battle. Staying on point is the other.

Kennedy's CeaseFire anti-violence program cut Boston homicides in half in the 1990s - the Boston Miracle. Now he says they moved away from CeaseFire and crime is on the rise. Streetworker unionization, role change and budget cuts decimated a once proud program.

Oakland too lost the plot. Courts issued gang injunctions without CeaseFire coordination. Then "funds from the city to CeaseFire were interrupted when the number of Oakland police dropped below levels required by the ballot measure."

When will officials learn to keep political fingers off things that actually work in the hood? When will we, the neighborhood dwelling public, wise-up and slap their fingers for it?

4 Replies so far - Add your comment

Evelyn Zellerer said...

I highly recommend the documentary "The Interrupters"; it's a great contribution to our understanding of gang violence and one powerful front line approach to prevent it.

I appreciated the link to Gary and David's joint response to the journalist. Informative and inspiring to see people's willingness to see the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish.

Thanks for another great post Greg!

GSaville said...
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GSaville said...

[Reposting my own comment after correcting for spelling mistake]

Thanks for the comment Evelyn.

Yes I agree "The Interrupters" is a fantastic statement of a new kind of restorative approach to epidemic violence. 

It's also true we must resist damaging political and media distraction. I considered doing a blog on yellow journalism and how it destroys civil dialogue. But I kept getting wrapped in my own uncivil polemics about journalistic incompetency.

Apparently, incompetency infects. Best just to move forward with the job at hand. Thanks again.

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