+

Justice and public safety strategies to strengthen communities

Justice and public safety strategies can reduce over policing and mass incarceration, strengthen neighborhood social ties, and help communities heal after crimes have been committed.

Supportive and safe communities strengthen family stability, foster strong social networks, and generate access to opportunity, all of which contribute to positive mobility outcomes at every life stage.

How do justice issues impact neighborhoods?

Safe neighborhoods increase rates of economic mobility. 1

There is a causal relationship between a neighborhood’s level of violent crime and rates of upward economic mobility.

Growing up without being exposed to violence strengthens healthy child development and academic progress. 2

Experiencing violence has strong negative effects on children, heightening their stress levels, lowering academic achievement, impairing cognitive development, and reducing high school graduation rates.

Safe neighborhoods have stronger local economies and schools. 3

Neighborhoods with high levels of violence attract less investment, see fewer new business openings, offering fewer jobs, and have more trouble attracting good teaching talent at neighborhood schools.

Safe communities improve neighborhood social networks. 4

In violent neighborhoods, individuals (and particularly young men) are forced to navigate strategically through public spaces, shifting their schedules, their networks, and their routines in an effort to minimize the threat of victimization. This limits individuals’ capacity to engage with public life, their communities, and their schools.

Mass incarceration reduces the number of two-parent households in a community. 5

Neighborhoods with higher rates of fathers at home tend to produce better economic mobility outcomes for lower-income Black boys.

Concentrated poverty is linked to low high school graduation rates

High school students who lived in high-poverty neighborhoods as adolescents are more likely to drop out than those who lived in low-poverty neighborhoods.

Categories of successful interventions

  • Neighborhood safety strategies: Strategies that improve neighborhood safety, reduce violence, and increase community quality of life
  • Re-entry programs: Programs that help individuals returning from prison find housing, employment, and other support services
  • Restorative justice programs: Programs that seek to repair the harm caused to victims of crime and rehabilitate offenders through cooperative meetings with community members

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level
Alcohol outlet density restrictions Policy
  • Community health programs
  • Substance use prevention programs
Proven (highest tier)
Center for Employment Opportunities Program
  • Re-entry programs
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier)
Community policing Strategy
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Proven (highest tier)
Cross-age youth mentoring Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Strong (second-highest tier)
Cure Violence Health Model Program
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Strong (second-highest tier)
Focused deterrence strategies Strategy
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Strong (second-highest tier)
Goodwill Good Transitions Program Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Goodwill Industries Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Hot spots policing Strategy
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Proven (highest tier)
Mentoring programs for delinquency Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier)
Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission Strategy
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Proven (highest tier)
NYC Summer Youth Employment Program Program
  • Summer jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Neighborhood watch programs Strategy
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Proven (highest tier)
Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Roca Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Safe Routes to School Strategy
  • Child wellness programs
  • Neighborhood safety strategies
Proven (highest tier)
School-based prevention programs for aggressive and disruptive behavior Strategy
  • Child wellness programs
Proven (highest tier)
School-based violence and bullying prevention programs Strategy
  • Child wellness programs
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier)
School-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports Strategy
  • Child wellness programs
  • Teacher training and professional development
Proven (highest tier)
Transitional Jobs Strategy
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier)
Footnotes
  1. Sharkey and Torrats-Espinosa, "The Effect of Violent Crime on Economic Mobility," Russell Sage Foundation 2015
    https://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/conferences/Sharkey_Draft.pdf
  2. Sharkey and Torrats-Espinosa, Ibid.
    https://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/conferences/Sharkey_Draft.pdf
  3. Sharkey and Torrats-Espinosa, Ibid.
    https://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/conferences/Sharkey_Draft.pdf
  4. Sharkey and Torrats-Espinosa, Ibid.
    https://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/conferences/Sharkey_Draft.pdf
  5. Badger, Cain Miller, Pearce, and Quealy, "Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys," New York Times 2018
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/19/upshot/race-class-white-and-black-men.html