In class we discussed the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), a program to decrease crime in the Cincinnati area. Crime in Cincinnati fits a One-to-Many model: 3% of the Cincinnati population commits 73.5% of homicides. This poses a vexing question: how might law enforcement break what appears to be a tightly knit network of criminals that has highly magnified, disruptive effects on the community? To address this challenge, CIRV approaches crime by coordinating the efforts of multiple law enforcement, social service, and community service agencies in a community outreach-oriented program.
CIRV’s most distinctive characteristic is the call-in program. Call-in meetings provide an opportunity for criminals and state officials to create a dialogue and discuss available resources, such as potential employment opportunities. In addition, call-in meetings also allow law enforcement officials to consistently reinforce the consequences of criminal recidivism. The city of Stockton, California, recently reinstated call-in meetings for the first time since the 1990s. The variety of leaders they have brought together is inspiring. Stockton has employed church leaders, gang outreach workers, and on the prosecution side, the District Attorney’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office, Probation and Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones. A community effort, such as Stockton’s, acknowledges crime is a much more complex than moving prisoners in small cells with Draconian conditions. Instead, the CIRV-like approach illuminates the notion that progressive rehabilitation is a strong possibility for those that commit crimes.
While the program’s success in Stockton has yet to be determined, there is significant evidence that CIRV achieved noteworthy gains in Cincinnati. In 2007, homicides declined 68%, the largest single-year drop since 1991. As discussed in class, Braga and Weisburd suggest that CIRV’s success is due in part to its adherence to the principal that “targeted offenders should be treated with respect and dignity… reflecting procedural justice principals” (Kennedy 2008, 2009: 351). As additional cities mimic CIRV across the United States, a decrease in crime becomes increasingly possible. I can only imagine how different outcomes would have been had convicted criminals been treated with respect and dignity before they felt the need to commit their crimes in the first place.
A Typical Call In