Gun violence continues to be a major criminal justice and public health issue. This article provides an overview of one strategy to reduce gun violence—focused deterrence. The strategy has been employed in many major U.S. cities, including in Illinois in Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. Overall research on focused deterrence strategies has found statistically significant reductions in violent crime.
Drug trafficking constitutes a major threat to public health and community well-being. Multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, comprised of law enforcement officers in one or more counties that agree to pool resources, were designed to combat drug distribution and trafficking. Researchers evaluated 19 drug task forces in Illinois using quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods included analyzing administrative data and state arrest records. Qualitative methods included focus groups with members of 18 task forces and surveys of both staff and policy board directors. The study revealed Illinois drug task forces made proportionately more drug arrests carrying more serious felony and manufacture/delivery charges than their local police counterparts. The study also showed the task forces fostered collaboration with stakeholders, maintained fidelity to critical elements of drug task forces, and garnered support from their policy boards.
Researchers conducted a process evaluation of Safe Passage, a police deflection model in which police departments become a referral point to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders. Through the model, individuals can walk into any participating police department and request and receive treatment without fear of arrest. In Illinois, Safe Passage has served 170 individuals in rural Lee and Whiteside counties since 2015. Researchers sought to understand how the initiative was developed and operated and gain perspectives of stakeholders, police officers, treatment providers, and clients involved in the program. While more research is needed, the initiative showed promise in its collaborative approach to connecting clients to treatment.
The prevalence of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is higher among individuals in prison and jail than in the general population. Research has shown a connection between trauma and criminality due in part to the coping mechanisms of aggression and substance misuse after a traumatic event. While the corrections environment itself may cause or exacerbate PTSD symptoms in some individuals, facilities can implement trauma-informed practices to minimize re-traumatization and reduce PTSD symptoms. This article documents the prevalence of trauma and PTSD within this population, and discusses how correctional facilities can implement trauma-informed practices and evidence-based approaches to assist individuals with trauma histories.
Research has found nearly all prisoners have experienced a traumatic event in their life and a high proportion suffer from PTSD. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and WestCare Foundation (Illinois) researchers surveyed 573 Illinois prisoners to understand the trauma they experienced and explore the relationship between trauma and substance misuse. Researchers found 89 percent of those surveyed had both experienced and witnessed more than one traumatic event during their lifetime. Almost one-fourth of the sample were identified as being symptomatic for PTSD (24 percent). In addition, researchers found a relationship found between greater PTSD symptoms and higher drug use. This article describes survey findings and provides implications for policy and practice in correctional facilities.
Last year, 45 percent of the 28,612 Illinois Department of Corrections inmates screened for substance abuse upon prison entry were deemed in need of treatment.