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Preventing crime: what works, what doesn't, what's promising.

In Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising, criminologists from the University of Maryland at College Park report to Congress on the effectiveness of state and local crime-prevention programs that are backed by U.S. Department of Justice grants. Researchers reviewed over 500 program evaluations, rating them on their scientific validity. That is, if the studies used to assess the impact of the programs met generally accepted research principles, the results they achieved--whether positive, negative, or unknown--were considered valid.

Unfortunately, based on this criterion, few programs proved effective, if only because they could not stand up under the required "rigorous and scientifically recognized standards and methodologies." Still, the report gives the thumbs up to a few programs, including early infancy and preschool home visits; school programs that establish, communicate, and enforce norms for student behavior; vocational programs for released older male offenders; nuisance abatement at private rental properties; and incapacitation of high-rate repeat offenders. Four policing strategies deemed effective were increased patrols directed at crime "hot spots," proactive arrests of serious repeat offenders, proactive arrests of drunk drivers, and arrests of domestic violence offenders who are employed.

What programs don't work? Unfortunately, the researchers classified many more programs ineffective than effective. Some of the programs that the report panned: gun buy-back programs without geographic limits on gun sources; home visits by police after domestic violence incidents as a means to reduce future violence; and "the most widely used version" of Drug Abuse and Resistance Education as a way to reduce substance use and delinquency.

The report also identifies what programs seem promising. Any program not fitting into one of the three main categories was placed the "What's Unknown" category. In sum, the researchers recommended that "a much larger part of the national crime prevention portfolio" be invested to test programs and identify the elements of successful local ones so that they may be adopted in "similar high-crime urban settings nationwide." It is in these "areas of concentrated poverty," as the report calls them, where the majority of all homicides in the nation occur and where crime prevention programs stand the best chance of success.

The full text of the report is available on the Internet at For a fax of the overview, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 800-851-3420; ask for document # 1025. Additional information for this Bulletin Report came from Justice Bulletin, National Criminal Justice Association, Washington, DC, June 1997, 11-14.

Bulletin Reports, a collection of criminal justice studies, reports, and project findings, is compiled by Kim Waggoner. Send your material for consideration to: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Room 209, Madison Building, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA 22135. (NOTE: The material in this section is intended to be strictly an information source and should not be considered an endorsement by the FBI for any product or service.)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:report on the effectiveness of U.S. Department of Justice-supported state and local crime prevention programs
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Nov 1, 1997
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Next Article:Supreme Court cases: 1996-1997 term.

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