Panel: Data, Implementation, and Evaluation in Crime Prevention
(Crime, Justice, and Drugs)

Friday, November 9, 2018: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Coolidge - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Emily Owens, University of California, Irvine
Discussants:  Aaron Chalfin, University of Pennsylvania

Implementing and Evaluating a Gun Violence Prevention Initiative: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Readi Chicago
Marianne Bertrand1, Monica Bhatt1, Christopher Blattman1, Sara Heller2 and Max Kapustin1, (1)University of Chicago, (2)University of Michigan

Developing and Evaluating Chicago's Strategic Decision Support Centers
Max Kapustin1, Alexander Heaton1, Jens Ludwig1, Terrence Neumann1 and Kimberley Smith2, (1)University of Chicago, (2)University of Chicago Crime Lab

Chicago has been facing an unprecedented surge in gun violence, with the number of homicides reaching levels not seen since the 1990s. This panel will present three projects that integrate data, program implementation, and evaluation in efforts to help local agencies reduce crime and violence.

The first paper is a randomized controlled trial of the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative or READI Chicago, a partnership between a coordinating non-profit agency, seven community-based organizations with experience working in each study neighborhood, and the research team. Participants are offered an 18-month supported job structured around CBT sessions targeting specific behaviors to reduce gun violence, as well as other support services as needed. A crucial challenge is identifying the right study population: men at the very highest risk of shooting or being shot. We combine a machine learning-based risk assessment using administrative data with on-the-ground human intelligence from community agencies to select study participants. Because it is too early for final results, we will focus on what we have learned about prediction and targeting, as well as practical lessons about working closely with providers to integrate data analysis with the implementation process.

The second paper reports on a new policing strategy that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the City implemented giving local commanders more complete information on crime in their districts. In addition to streamlining data access, the Strategic Decision Support Center (SDSC) functions as a management tool to help commanders deploy and monitor their resources more effectively. The University of Chicago Crime Lab worked closely with CPD to implement SDSCs in the six districts with the highest rates of gun violence in 2016. Crime Lab staff developed tools to summarize data, conducted trainings on the use of new technology, and worked alongside officers in the role of civilian crime analysts. To assess how much of the resulting 15 percent decline in homicide from 2016 to 2017 is due to the SDSCs, we construct a comparison district for each SDSC district using synthetic controls methods, which we extend through the introduction of a geographic subsampling technique that improves the precision of our estimates. We find that the implementation of the SDSCs, particularly in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, resulted in substantial reductions in gun violence.

The third paper is a RCT of a new intervention informed that seeks to effectively target and engage those adolescents at highest risk for violence involvement in Chicago. Choose to Change (C2C): Your Mind, Your Game is a 5-month community-based intervention combining a behaviorally-informed intervention (a version of trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT) with holistic mentorship and advocacy to recruit and retain youth. Preliminary data suggest that participation in C2C reduces total arrests by 51% and arrests for violent crimes specifically by 50%. We also measure impacts on peers by combining our ability to construct offending networks from arrest records with exogenous variation in peer treatment status induced by the RCT, finding initial evidence that C2C reduced arrests among the peers of study youth by 48%.

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