Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Following the national uptick of violence across the country, societal angst has once again begun to surface. Those in positions of authority began to look to the criminal justice system for ways to address this cyclical issue. Traditionally, applying law enforcement crackdowns and increased penalties and sanctions to the offenders were the main topics of discussion. However, over the last two decades, problem-oriented policing has begun to emerge. Problem-oriented policing works to identify why things are going wrong and to frame responses using a wide variety of often untraditional approaches (Goldstein 1979). One of the problem-oriented frameworks known as the “pulling levers” focused deterrence strategy, looked to prevent gang and group involved violence.

The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a better understanding of the long-term effectiveness of focused deterrence programs that have been implemented across the country over the last two decades. How well do these anti-violence, focused-deterrence programs work? This study will be broken down into two parts: (1) a violent crime rate analysis of five (5) focused deterrence programs across the United States; and (2) a detailed programmatic evaluation of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program.

Most of the current literature that relates to focused deterrence programs have evaluated the programs based on their pre-crime rates and crime rates during the duration of the program. Many of these programs have been realized only to have them fade out over time. This dissertation will focus on two general research questions:

  1. Is the violent crime rate responsive to various focused deterrence programs?
  2. Once these programs disappear, is there a whiplash effect (spike) in crime rates in those particular communities where the focused deterrence programs have been implemented?

The findings of the study indicate that where focused deterrence initiatives are implemented, there are noticeable positive impacts on violent crime in the targeted neighborhoods. Within the first year of the post-intervention period in the cities studied, the violent crime rate in the targeted areas fell anywhere from approximately 20% to 70%. However, during the two years following the conclusion of the initiatives, two of the cities, Baton Rouge and Los Angeles – Hollenbeck, had immediate spikes in violent crime while Boston and Lowell showed a significant spike in year two. Only Cincinnati showed a two-year decrease in violent crime but spiked noticeably in the third year. This data suggests that once the focused deterrence initiatives are no longer in place, the crime rate begins to rise again thus indicating a whiplash effect. Additionally, the programmatic evaluation of the BRAVE initiative highlighted noteworthy fidelity to the program. Through interviews, all eight respondents indicated that BRAVE was administered as per the Group Violence Intervention Implementation Guide. Nevertheless, as time went on, obstacles like employee turnover, logistics, community problems, and political internal strife contributed to the downfall of the program.

Committee Chair

Shihadeh, Edward S.

Available for download on Monday, June 20, 2022

Included in

Criminology Commons

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