Reducing Urban Violence: A Contrast of Public Health and Criminal Justice Approaches

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Cities are investing millions in Cure Violence, a public health approach to reduce urban violence by targeting at-risk youth and redirecting conflict to nonviolent responses. The impact of such a program compared with criminal justice responses is unknown because experiments directly comparing criminal justice and public health approaches to violence prevention are infeasible with observational data.

The University of California Davis simulated experiments to test the influence of two interventions on violence: (1) Cure Violence and (2) directed police patrol in violence hot spots. The recently published study proofs that combined investment in a public health, community-based approach to violence prevention and a criminal justice approach focused on deterrence can achieve more to reduce population-level rates of urban violence than either can in isolation.

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