Cure Violence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from CeaseFire (organization))
Jump to: navigation, search
Cure Violence
Founded 2000
Founder Dr. Gary Slutkin
Focus Reducing street violence
  • Chicago, Illinois
Method Street-level outreach, conflict mediation

Cure Violence, originally founded as CeaseFire, Inc.,[1][2] is an anti-violence program and initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention aimed at reducing street violence by using outreach workers to interrupt potentially violent situations.[3] These violence interrupters work on the street, mediating conflicts between gangs and intervening to prevent retaliatory shootings and killings.[4] The project was founded in 1995 by Dr. Gary Slutkin, an American epidemiologist who maintains that violence is a public health issue that can be prevented by changing behavioral norms.[4]


In 2000, the CeaseFire Model was launched in West Garfield, the most violent community in Chicago at the time. CeaseFire produced a 67 percent reduction in shootings in its first year.[5] However, a three-year review by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 found that it reduced shootings from 16 percent to 34 percent and eliminated retaliatory murders resulting from increased use of public education slogans — such as “Don’t shoot. I want to grow up.” — and conflict mediation and community mobilization. As of May 2014, the Chicago Tribune finds the West Garfield Park neighborhood tied for second most violent in the city.

CeaseFire received additional funding from the State of Illinois in 2004 to immediately expand from 5 to 15 communities and from 20 to 80 Outreach Workers. That year, homicides declined in Chicago by 25 percent, to a total of 448, a rate of 15.5 homicides per 100,000 residents [6]

Since 2005, the organization has been providing a hospital-based violence prevention response to violently injured patients from the south and southwest side of Chicago at the Advocate Christ Medical Center. The success of the Advocate Christ program led, in 2011, to the creation of a second hospital-based violence prevention program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a level-1 trauma center that treats approximately 1,000 trauma patients annually.[7] Claimed statistics do not include other factors such as weather conditions, widely known to have dramatic effects on crime rates. CeaseFire, Inc. changed its name to Cure Violence on September 13, 2013.[1]


Cure Violence's founder and executive director, Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist and a physician who for ten years battled infectious diseases in Africa. He says that violence directly mimics infections like tuberculosis and AIDS, and so, he suggests, the treatment ought to mimic the regimen applied to these diseases: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.[8]

The Cure Violence model uses outreach workers, or violence interrupters, to mitigate conflict on the street before it turns violent.[9] These interrupters are oftentimes former gang members, who use their street credibility to show community members better ways of communicating with each other and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.[10]

Cure Violence takes a three-pronged approach: detection/interruption of planned violent activity, behavior change of high-risk individuals, and changing community norms.[11]

Slutkin has presented the model at the White House Conference on Gang Violence Prevention & Crime Control.[12]


Original funding for CeaseFire came from contributions from federal and state grants, and from local foundations and corporations, providing a $6.2 million budget for 2005 and $9.4 million for 2006. In 2007, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich discontinued state funding; CeaseFire’s budget decreased to $3.2 million.[13]

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded CeaseFire a grant of $1.8 million for the period May 2007 to June 2012.[14]


In May 2008, Professor Wesley G. Skogan, an expert on crime and policing at Northwestern University, completed a three-year, independent, Department of Justice-funded report on CeaseFire, which found that the program successfully reduced shootings and killings by 41% to 73%.[4] Actual and attempted shootings were reduced 16% to 28% in four of the seven sites studied. Retaliatory shootings were reduced 100% in five of the seven communities examined in the report.[15]

From the founding of the organization in 2000, the annual murder rate in Chicago dropped from 628 to 435 in 2010 — the lowest in 45 years.[16]

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, advocates for such an interventionist approach to violent crime, believing the benefits of Ceasefire's intercession are many. On, Webster said, ""Violence is reciprocal. Stopping one homicide through mediation could buy you peace for months down the road."[17]


National Sites:[18]

International Sites:[19]

2011 documentary[edit]

The Interrupters is a film, produced in 2011 by Kartemquin Films, that documents the story of three CeaseFire outreach workers. It was directed and produced by Steve James, director of "Hoop Dreams" and also produced by Alex Kotlowitz, an author who first wrote about the organization for the New York Times Magazine in 2009.[20] The film emphasizes the notion that much of the violence on the streets results from interpersonal conflict, rather than from gang-related disputes.[20]

The film follows three interrupters—Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra. Ameena, the daughter of Jeff Fort—a major gang leader in the 1970s—spent time as a teen involved in a gang, and now takes to the streets to keep youths from doing the same.[20] Ricardo "Cobe" Williams did three stints in jail for attempted murder and drug-related charges, and Eddie Bocanegra served 14 years in jail for a murder he committed at age 17.[16]

The film premiered at 2011 Sundance.[21] It aired as a PBS Frontline broadcast in February 2012.[22]


  1. ^ a b Melanie Eversley (September 13, 2013). "CeaseFire changes name to CureViolence". USA Today. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dargis, Manohla (July 29, 2011). "Confronting a Plague of Violence". New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Wesley G. Skogan, Susan M. Hartnett, Natalie Bump, and Jill Dubois (May 2008). "Executive Summary: Evaluation of CeaseFire-Chicago". 
  5. ^ Chamberlin, Jamie (June 2011). "Cease fire". Monitor on Psychology (American Psychological Association). 
  6. ^ "Biography of Tio Hardiman". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  7. ^ "Press release: Northwestern Memorial Hospital Joins National Anti-Violence Strategy". Northwestern Memorial Hospital. February 8, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  8. ^ Kotlowitz, Alex (May 4, 2008). "Blocking the Transmission of Violence". New York Times. 
  9. ^ "CeaseFire: The Campaign to Stop the Shooting". DeSantis Breindel YouTube. 
  10. ^ McCracken, Kristin (August 3, 2011). "Violence, Interrupted: Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz on The Interrupters". Huffington Post. 
  11. ^ Khan, Sheema (July 21, 2011). "Why we need a CeaseFire". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  12. ^ "Biography of Gary Slutkin". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  13. ^ Heidi S. Bonner, Sarah J. McLean, and Robert E. Worden (October 2008). "CeaseFire Chicago-A Synopsis". Finn Institute. 
  14. ^ "CeaseFire: Chicago Violence Prevention Program". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
  15. ^ Nancy Ritter. "CeaseFire: A Public Health Approach to Reduce Shootings and Killings". 
  16. ^ a b Binlot, Ann (August 4, 2011). "Violence, Redeemed: "The Interrupters" Follows Reformed Felons Driven Back to Crime — to Stop It". ArtInfo. 
  17. ^ a b McLaughlin, Eliott C. (September 28, 2011). "Interrupting the cycle of teen violence". CNN. 
  18. ^ "CeaseFire in Action: National Partners". CeaseFire. 
  19. ^ "CeaseFire in Action: International Partners". CeaseFire. 
  20. ^ a b c Lee, Amy (August 4, 2011). "'The Interrupters': Documentary Deals With Violence On The Streets Of Chicago". Huffington Post. 
  21. ^ Savage, Sophia (March 28, 2011). "Sundance Hit Steve James Doc The Interrupters Lands Distributor". IndieWire. 
  22. ^ Frontline Web site with access to the documentary

External links[edit]