Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention

Report Author

Justin R. Corbett

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Table of Contents

Mechanisms of Impact

Knowing conflict-oriented interventions are productive through achieving the numerous effects previously outlined is key to affirming their place within the City’s portfolio of crime prevention initiatives. Being able to articulate the specific manner by which these interventions achieve their observed effects, however, is another, important step; one that empowers providers and policymakers with the insights necessary to further refine and leverage those services. Toward that end, the following section outlines some of the certain and speculative mechanisms at play.

Identifying how mediation and restorative justice influences criminal activity ensures providers can work more effectively toward its prevention.

The mechanisms through which conflict interventions reduce crime, fear, and disorder are far more nuanced than that they simply ‘resolve disputes that could have become criminal in nature.’ While that abstraction is broadly true, it only partially captures their influence and represents their functioning at a global level. Revealing a more complete topography and contouring its component mechanisms equips providers with the knowledge necessary to further focalize their Theories of Change, amplify the operative mechanisms’ influence, and more capably maximize their services’ intended impact.

Several key mechanisms have been subjected to extensive research and were previously introduced in their respective impact segments of this report, such as criminogenic needs servicing and collective efficacy. Numerous other mechanisms, however, have received comparatively nominal reviews340 or are proposed here for the first time. These latter mechanisms operate across every stage of prevention targeting and identify how providers’ interventions functionally contribute to the prevention of crime.341 These include:

Importantly, not all of these are universally applicable across the entirety of service providers’ programmatic portfolios. Some focus on broader institutional relations and social dynamics, bypassing specific service mechanics altogether. Relatedly, not all of the proposed mechanisms represent conceptually or functionally distinct processes. Still, their presentation here serves as a widening komorebi, illuminating the ground-, table-, and circle-truths of how conflict interventions prevent crime. In this way, they are an important inclusion in an assessment of service providers’ practice and potential.

Figure 32. Operative Levels of Providers’ Prevention Mechanisms

This visualization identifies the approximate placement of the proposed mechanisms along the various levels of prevention.


340. Unfortunately, the underlying causal mechanisms determining the success or failure of neighborhood-level interventions have not received as careful attention as many individual and market-based interventions. One impressive exception, however, is Galster’s 2011 review of 15 potential neighborhood-level causal pathways, of which this author’s own ‘Constructive Propagation’ is a close cousin. Those interested in exploring further paths to distribute the constructive effects of conflict interventions throughout local neighborhoods should explore Galster’s work.

341. Importantly, while these hypothesized mechanisms provide intriguing avenues of further exploration, the ultimate veracity of these proposals on how service providers’ likely produce the aforementioned categories of impact is independent of whether that impact occurs; this latter question having been roundly confirmed through the ever-accumulating evidence to the affirmative.