Between 2010 and 2012 The Center for Court Innovation evaluated the efficacy of the Save Our Streets (SOS) project to combat gun violence in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. SOS is a remarkable community-based organization which has developed an innovative approach to dealing with gun violence. Using outreach workers to target high risk individuals–namely, those who are at risk of either perpetrating or falling victim to gun violence–SOS has had a significant impact on rates of violence in the community. SOS outreach workers also engage in violence interruption–a strategy used to identify and mediate conflicts which have the potential to erupt in gun violence. The study concluded through monthly analysis of gun violence in Crown Heights that overall, violence dropped by 6%, while 3 comparison neighborhoods saw an increase in gun violence by 18% to 28%
This is an inspiring story for anyone who is interested in restorative justice. Specifically, the work of SOS supports the idea that violent behavior is not inevitable and that change is possible without punitive punishment. By focusing on the individual and providing support to both (potential) victim and offender, SOS has effectively prevented future acts of violence from taking place.