Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention
Table of Contents
Service Provider Processes
Service providers offer a range of criminogenic and prevention relevant processes. These include arbitration, conciliation, conflict coaching, dialogue groups, group facilitation, mediation, mentoring, open circles, open space, Peacemaking, restorative justice, special education mediation, training and public education, and numerous other services. Through their partnership, service providers regularly supply MOCJ with updates on the nature and number of each of these processes, five of which are outlined here and in the adjacent visualization.
Conflict coaching is a comparatively newer addition to many service providers’ portfolios. It is a process whereby a trained coach works with a client to develop hir conflict-related understanding, as well as future-oriented interaction skills and strategies.47 Borough-wide service providers are positioned to significantly expand coaching services in the coming years, an important development as this process is ideally positioned to address criminogenic needs in the individual domain.48
Mediation is the foundational and flagship service for community dispute resolution centers (CDRCs). It is a process wherein trained neutrals assist disputing parties discuss matters of contention and, if appropriate, develop a plan for how best to move forward. Mediation can be requested by any NYC resident, or accessed through a variety of referral relationships curated by the providers. Though not all requests or referrals conclude with formal mediation resolutions, the engagement of participants beginning with mediation intake can produce measurable reductions in the intensity at which they experience conflict, their perceptions of its ultimate resolvability, and the likelihood of subsequent criminal escalations.49
Peacemaking is a traditional form of justice practiced by various Native American tribes that engages a broad network of supporters, heals damaged relationships, and restores harmony to the community.50 As operationalized by the RHPP, this process contains at least seven points of contact between participants and Peacemaking personnel, including preliminary meetings, in-person circle sessions, personal advancement work, and follow- up monitoring of customized healing steps. As a mechanism of prevention, it is a laborious, yet powerfully influential intervention.51
Peer Mediation and School-Based RJ
School-based restorative practices represent a range of processes including, most notably, peer mediation and accountability circles. These processes empower youth to actively reflect upon and resolve their own conflicts and those of their peers. When thoughtfully implemented as part of a whole-school approach to discipline reform, these processes enhance school climate, reduce reliance upon exclusionary discipline, and enhance students’ academic performance, each of which directly influences the probability of youth’s criminal involvement.52
Training and Public Education
Training and public education are the backbone of service providers primary (i.e. general population) prevention activities. By elevating the prominence and profile of constructive conflict engagement skills and services, providers increase the probability their utilization during times of escalating personal conflict. By enhancing the City’s collective conflict competence, providers disrupt the path from conflict to crime directly and through countless informal interventions of both daily and dire exchanges alike. In this way, as a medium of crime prevention, conflict skills training may well represent the most consequential intervention service providers currently offer.
Figure 7. Providers’ Criminogenically Relevant Processes
Matrix of service providers’ criminogenically relevant programming, including a combination of their anticipated 2016 and most recently reported annual case volumes.
47. Statewide, CDRC staff and volunteers have recently undertaken training in conflict coaching in preparation for its widespread integration into that network’s service portfolio. That training, as well as the referenced definition of conflict coaching, was rooted in the conflict coaching matters model (Jones, T.S., Brinkert, R., 2008).
48. Individual domain criminogenic needs include aggressiveness, beliefs and attitudes favorable to deviant or antisocial behaviors, impulsive behaviors, internalizing disorders, lack of attachment to convention, lack of stable relationships, low sociomoral reasoning, misinterpreting others’ communication, poor problem-solving skills, risk taking behaviors, social skills deficit, theft, victimization, and violence against others. For more, including references, see the ‘At-Risk Population’ segment of this report’s individual impact category.
49. Prospective/clients who engage in anything less than a completed intervention (e.g. a full, in-person mediation session), but who have at least minimally participated in an initial intake process, do receive measurable value from those abbreviated encounters – including potential criminogenic needs servicing – and, therefore, should be included in service providers’ overall impact effectiveness analyses and reporting as intention-to- treat (ITT) incidents. For more on the appropriateness of including ITT populations in pragmatic reviews of intervention effectiveness, see: Hollis, S., Campbell, F. (1999).
50. This definition draws from the Center for Court Innovation’s report on Peacemaking circles that highlights the role of this process in the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Lambson, S.H., 2015).
51. As of yet, the research corpus for Peacemaking is still slowly developing. What does exist – including this evaluation – is largely descriptive in nature and does not yet include robust quantitative impact analyses (Bradshaw, W., Roseborough, D.J., 2005).
52. For a larger discussion on the impact of school-based peer mediation and restorative practices, see the ‘Schools’ briefing in this report’s institutional ‘Categories of Impact’ segment.