Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention

Report Author

Justin R. Corbett

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Table of Contents


For the vast majority of criminal incidents inciting institutional involvement, their motives and munitions are rooted in interpersonal conflicts left unattended and unskilled. The timely, facilitated resolution of these conflicts, therefore, can serve to prevent that criminal probability inherent within. Whether as a result of intrapsychic, interpersonal, communal, systemic, or some combination of shifts thereof, interventions that target and tame conflict excise those encounters of their criminogenic consequence and enhance individuals’ capacities to actively resist and ably recover from criminal activities. As such, MOCJ’s network of conflict interventionist service providers should be considered and supported as strategic contributors to the City’s precision and primary efforts that seek to prevent crime, improve neighborhood safety, and enhance residents’ quality of life.

This evaluation of NYC’s Borough-wide mediation and conflict assistive service providers (collectively, CMS, IMCR, NYCID, and NYPI), as well as its Catchment Area providers (CMS, IMCR, NYCID, and RHPP), has sought to review the number, nature, and nuance of whom and how their interventions are criminogenically and preventatively relevant. It stands as one of the more ambitious reviews – for its briskness and breadth – of a network as prolific and profoundly consequential as is represented by the NYC community dispute resolution and restorative justice collective.

In review, this evaluation has provided a cursory review of key conceptual foundations girding its framework, including working definitions of ‘conflict,’ ‘dispute resolution,’ ‘criminally relevant activity,’ ‘prevention relevance,’ and ‘risk targeting.’ It presented overviews of the service providers, their primary programming, and their diversely situated geographies of operation. It reviewed 20 categories of prevention relevant impact, noting within each category the range of existing evidence-based metrics and measures currently known, as well as anecdotes of and proposals for NYC specific applications related thereto. Supportable consequence was identified for each category of impact, including: (1) providers’ general service populations; (2) youth; (3) those at-risk of criminal offending; (4) offenders; (5) victims, (6) strain primed and (7) susceptible co- offenders (collectively ‘collaterally consequenced’); (8) the community; (9) the criminal justice system overall, and its specific (10) law enforcement, (11) prosecutorial, (12) criminal and (13) summonses court, (14) probation, and (15) corrections institutions; select justice-adjacent institutions, such as (16) public housing and (17) education providers; (18) economic and (19) socioeconomic impact; and (20) a range of emerging impacts currently being uncovered throughout the practice areas’ increasingly vibrant research spheres. Previously identified and newly hypothesized mechanisms of impact were then developed, allowing readers to peer deeper into the conflict/crime connection and reveal the range of preventative passageways promoted by providers. Finally, a set of policy and programmatic recommendations were suggested that specifically and systemically improve the operating contexts and ongoing consequence of providers’ public service.

In short, this evaluation affirms providers’ preventative impact, their place within criminal justice policy, and their potential for far greater prominence in both, should interest and investment in their programming better reflect their observed performance and potential.