Ceasefire: Proven programs to lower rates of gang violence

Chicago’s Ceasefire Program is Looking Good: Read here

Note: Since I wrote this post in 2009, Chicago Ceasefire has changed its name to avoid confusion with the Boston Ceasefire violence reduction strategy, which you can learn more about here. (Chicago’s Ceasefire is now called Cure Violence and it’s gone through some changes.)


People often ask me if we can ever stop gang violence. Here’s the short answer: it takes a lot of work, but it can be done.

I’ve been tracking evidence-based programs such as the city of Chicago’s Ceasefire with a lot of interest. Proponents say these intensive, multi-pronged public-health approaches are the only proven way to lower murder rates.


Chicago is one of several cities using a model that basically treats youth violence as a public health issue and not just a law enforcement problem. The idea is to follow the example of epidemiologists and public health experts by adopting the same kind of successful approaches that have gotten people to stop smoking or use seat beats or condoms.

Another program called Ceasefire has gotten results in Boston and other cities (Stockton, California being one close to home), and it’s one of things I’ve been studying during my fellowship at Harvard.

More than anything, I’m hoping to see the city of Salinas emulate some of this success.

Here’s an excerpt from the new report, describing a few of  Chicago Ceasefire’s five key components (the bolding is mine):

“CeaseFire focused on changing the behavior of a small number of carefully selected members of the community, those with a high chance of either ‘being shot or being a shooter’ in the immediate future.

Violence interrupters worked on the street, mediating conflicts between gangs and intervening to stem the cycle of retaliatory violence that threatens to break out following a shooting.

Outreach workers counseled young clients and connected them to a range of services.”

The five core components, by the way, are:

  • Street-level outreach
  • Public education
  • Community mobilization
  • Faith leader involvement
  • Police participation

Download the full report: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/227181.pdf
The Chicago Ceasefire Web site: http://www.ceasefirechicago.org/
The Boston Gun Project and Boston’s Operation Ceasefire: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/criminaljustice/research/bgp.htm