Antiviolence Strategy

“When people look at a dangerous violent criminal at the beginning of his developmental process rather than at the very end of it, they will see, perhaps unexpectedly, that the dangerous violent criminal began as a relatively benign human being for whom they would probably have more sympathy than antipathy. Perhaps more importantly, people will conclude that the creation of dangerous violent criminals is largely preventable, as is much of the human carnage which follows in the wake of their birth. Therefore, if society fails to take any significant steps to stop the process behind the creation of dangerous violent criminals, it tacitly becomes an accomplice in creating them.”  (Lonnie Athens)

Two Key Questions

Question 1: Why are violent people violent?

Question 2: What would it take to dramatically reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured as a result of criminal violence, including gun violence?

Two Key Answers

Serious criminal violence is a natural result of human adaptation to violent experiences and a violent environment—violence breeds violence.

  • Learning: People do what they know.

  • Trauma: Hurt people hurt people.

Violence is (or is like) an infectious disease. Trauma from experiences with violence is the primary carrier. To dramatically reduce violence, dramatically reduce and effectively treat violent trauma.

Strategy Paper

Solving a problem starts with understanding the problem—the right problem.

Attached is a strategy paper outlining many of the essential elements of an effective antiviolence strategy, some of which may be new or represent paradigm shifts for some people.

Every section of the paper could easily (and perhaps should) be expanded into a chapter of a book. Hopefully, however, the paper and referenced resources will provide a conceptual framework around which to flesh out effective solutions to the gun violence and other serious violent crime plaguing Chicago and some other areas in Illinois.

One thing is for sure: if violent crime were a disease and imprisonment were the cure, at our current rate of imprisonment we would be an almost crime-free society. We are not. Quite the contrary.

As they say, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expecting different results. If we want different results, then we must make serious changes in our approach to criminal justice and public safety, including dramatically reducing our gross overuse and misuse of imprisonment.

The deeper I get in studying and analyzing the problem, the more I keep coming up with four solution buckets: trauma, jobs, incentives, and educating the public.

This strategy paper is aimed at helping fill the public education bucket.

My antiviolence strategy paper (click this link) covers the following topics:

  • Situation Report: The Big Picture

    • Chicago Homicide Rates

    • Chicago Clearance Rates

  • Underlying Causes

  • Disease Paradigm

  • Making it Real: Criminal Justice System Reform

    • “Prisons Are Crime College”

  • Four Solution Buckets: Trauma, Jobs, Incentives, Educating the Public

  • Lonnie Athens’ Theory of “Violentization”

  • Practical Application

    • High End of the Violentization Scale

    • Lower End of the Violentization Scale

      • Multi-Systemic Therapy

      • Central Role of Schools

      • Parenting Education, Especially for Children Raising Children

      • Trauma-Informed Care

      • Antiviolence Group Resocialization

      • Antiviolence Community Associations

  • Restorative Justice

  • Guns

    • The Wrong Target

    • The Right Target: Secondary Gun Market

    • Some Practical Solutions

  • Community Policing and Problem-Solving Policing

  • Problem-Solving Courts

  • The Problem on Which All Else Hinges: The Resource Riddle