Thursday, June 3, 2010

Study Says County Anti-Violence Program is Falling Short

The RAND Corporation recently released a study saying that the Allegheny County violence-prevention program One Vision One Life is failing to prevent violence. Since its inception, the program has failed to stem homicides and has in fact been associated with a rise in aggravated assaults and gun assaults in the three neighborhoods where it operates: the Northside, Hill District and the Southside. The program was modeled after successful versions that drastically reduced gang-related crime in Chicago, Boston and Baltimore.

The RAND study also found that “One Vision lacked consistent documentation, and its staff rarely used the available documentation in any systematic way to guide program actions.”

Erin Dalton of the Department of Human Services says DHS took some of the findings to heart.“Particularly the one that suggests that programs like One Vision One Life, outreach programs in and of themselves, have challenges in reducing violence without a coordinated community-based law enforcement strategy,” says Dalton.

However, Dalton did not agree with all of the study’s findings. She rejected the study’s assertion that Pittsburgh gang structure differs from those of other cities, rendering typical strategies ineffective. Dalton also doubted that One Vision helped cause an increase in assaults since 2004.
“I think it’s worth keeping in mind that the study was undertaken at a time where violence was increasing throughout the city,” says Dalton, “so what they found was larger increases in the areas in which One Vision One Life was working. I don’t have the statistical background to take major issue with it, but I find it sort of questionable.”

She says in the future, One Vision will work with the more law enforcement-based Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime to achieve better results. Dalton added that One Vision will also need to shift from community-based action to gang-based action.

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