Programs in Massachusetts

Some programs in Massachusetts are intended to avoid isolation of at-risk youth, and other intervention efforts. In Boston, a program called Cease Fire was introduced to serve as a method of intervention. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) Targeting children in their early teens, this program endeavored to provide offenders and at-risk youth with visits of support from police, probation officers and clergy. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) The reasoning behind this particular program is to avoid the sense of isolation felt by many at-risk youth.

(Operation Cease Fire, 1998) In contrast to many programs that focus on separating the “good kids” from the “bad kids”, this approach focuses on the philosophy that all young people are in the same community and subject to the same influences and pressures. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) This engenders a sense of belonging that is vital to the wellbeing of the at-risk youths. Cease Fire was an initiative launched in the mid-1990s in response to increased gun violence that appeared to be spiraling out of control.

(Operation Cease Fire, 1998) The first attempt at intervention by agents in the Boston PD was a crackdown focusing on gang-members. In conjunction with this portion of the initiative, probation officers and police went into the community to offer services at the houses of at-risk young people. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) They focused on conflict resolution and positive reinforcement of positive behavior. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) This program targeted at-risk groups, as the targeted areas were high-crime in nature.

The ages of those for whom the interventions took place were twelve years and up. By visiting the homes of those who were at-risk, the program focused on the population and community most vulnerable to gang activity. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) Additionally, by visiting homes, officials included family and friends and other associates in the intervention measures. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998) Analysis of the program also revealed that three Boston neighborhoods were most prone to be victimized by gang violence. (Operation Cease Fire, 1998)

In the area of suppression, targeting older, more established members of gangs, most jurisdictions rely on task forces, regional targeting or gang-targeting practices to attempt to stem the tide of gang violence. (Spergel, et. al. 1994) In its model development stage, the National Youth Gang Suppression and Intervention Program prepared a set of policies and practices for the design and mobilization of community efforts by police, prosecutors, judges, probation and parole officers, corrections officers, schools, employers, community-based agencies, and a range of grassroots organizations.

(Spergel, et. al. 1994) Prototype development is the second of four stages (Assessment, Prototype Development, Technical Assistance, and Testing) of a research and development process conducted in cooperation with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice, to create promising approaches for the reduction of the youth gang problem. (Spergel, et. al.

1994)The framework for the policies and procedures recommended in each of the 12 models is based upon 2 types of gang problems: chronic and emerging. (Spergel, et. al. 1994) Differential strategies of suppression and intervention consist of suppression, community mobilization, social intervention, social opportunities, organization change and development, and distinctive institutional missions. (Spergel, et. al. 1994) These programs deal primarily with secondary intervention. (Spergel, et. al. 1994)