Preventing gun violence with focused deterrence

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A group of kids from the Southwest Philadelphia Healthnastics program, ages 3-18, held signs at a protest demanding the Kenney administration do more to address gun violence in the city on August 4, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A group of kids from the Southwest Philadelphia Healthnastics program, ages 3-18, held signs at a protest demanding the Kenney administration do more to address gun violence in the city on August 4, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Cities across the country – including Philadelphia – are in the throes of a gun violence epidemic, with homicide rates soaring, in part due to the inequities worsened by Covid-19. But the city of Chester in Delaware County seems to be experiencing the opposite, after implementing a risk/reward model almost one year ago, homicides and fatal shootings have been nearly cut in half. The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods uses increased law enforcement presence alongside offers for job training and education for the most at-risk individuals, a practice also known as “focused deterrence”. We’re joined by Delaware CountyDeputy District Attorney MATT KROUSE and Chester community resource consultant JEAN-PIERRE BRICE to discuss why they think the program is working, the public’s reaction to its first year of operation and problems with gaining the trust of at-risk individuals. Then, we talk with THOMAS ABT, senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice and author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence–and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets. He explains the principles behind focused deterrence, how it’s been adapted to meet the needs of different communities and if it’s sustainable.

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