Mayor de Blasio Announces Partnership With Crime Lab New York To Advance Evidence-Driven, Cost-Effective Public Safety Strategies

January 16, 2015

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation pledges $4.5 million to fund sophisticated data research and rigorous programmatic evaluation to City agencies

NEW YORK— To capitalize on historically low crime rates in New York City, Mayor de Blasio today announced a joint research venture with Crime Lab New York to design and assess the effectiveness of innovative programs that strive to prevent crime and violence well before they begin.

Crime Lab New York – the second installment of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab – has opened an office co-located within the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. It will be staffed by academics, statisticians, and behavioral economists and employ sophisticated data research methods to help City agencies determine how their criminal justice resources can be best invested. This unprecedented partnership is one component of the de Blasio administration’s ongoing efforts to use evidence-driven methods to reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration, direct criminal justice resources to where they will have the greatest public safety impact, and make the system fairer.
 
 “We now have the opportunity to make New York City the leading laboratory in the country for criminal justice innovation,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This partnership will allow us to study how interventions like algebra tutoring and extended hours at community centers can provide significant public safety returns to help our City maintain low crime and violence rates.”

“The Crime Lab model has shown that it is possible for researchers and policy makers to collaborate in a way that uses rigorous scientific study to improve human lives,” said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer. “We look forward to this new engagement with the City of New York, as part of the University’s commitment to making an impact on issues that affect cities around the world.”

Early projects will include:

  • Evaluations of new strategies to enhance the effectiveness and reduce the social harms associated with the administration of criminal justice,
  • Interventions to improve educational outcomes for young people by helping better individualize instruction to students who are far behind grade level and so at elevated risk for becoming disconnected from school, and
  • Using new “big data” techniques from computer science to help policymakers target the people or neighborhoods that will benefit most from new interventions.

“This de Blasio administration’s 21st century approach to public safety is committed to shaping policy that is driven by hard evidence and thorough, objective analysis,” said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “Partnering with Crime Lab New York is part of this effort to ensure that our strategies are shaped by science and not speculation.” 

Crime Lab’s first office was launched in 2008 to use randomized evaluations and other methods to attack broad and persistent problems of urban violence. In one of its best-known collaborations, Crime Lab worked with the City of Chicago to design “Becoming a Man,” a mentoring program that was shown to reduce violent crime arrests by 44 percent, compared to participants’ peers. “Becoming a Man” was recognized on several occasions by President Barack Obama, and served as a model for the White House initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.”

“Crime Lab New York is thrilled to be partnering with the City at this critical moment where New York has the opportunity to lead the country in showing how to control crime while simultaneously reducing social harms associated with the criminal justice system,” said Katy Brodsky Falco, Executive Director of Crime Lab New York. “New York City’s historically low crime rate offers us a unique opportunity to focus more on persistent pieces of the crime problem like domestic violence that haven’t historically received enough attention because soaring numbers of shootings have demanded our full and immediate focus.”

The launch of Crime Lab New York is supported by a four-year $4.5 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which has also supported Crime Lab work in Chicago, strives to produce substantial, widespread and lasting changes to society that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice.

“Among the largest obstacles to reducing crime is the lack of sophisticated research about the strategies that effectively keep our communities safe,” said Anne Milgram, Vice President of Criminal Justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. “Through the launch of Crime Lab New York, we will learn more about the programs, interventions and approaches that have the potential to create a significant, positive impact on New York City and cities nationwide.”

Crime Lab New York will be led by Faculty Director Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and Executive Director Katy Brodsky Falco, previously the Executive Director of Assessments and Reentry Services at the New York City Department of Correction.   

 

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