Project Safe Neighborhoods II- Safe Streets- Brockton Initiative

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Safe Streets

At its core, Safe Streets is a partnership between the Plymouth District Attorney, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and residents, to address concerns unique to each of the 27 cities and towns we serve in Plymouth County.


Safe Streets Task Force

A multi-disciplinary prosecution team assigned by District Attorney Cruz to the following responsibilities:

Enforcement:

Borne of the Operation Safe Streets Initiative in June, 2015, District Attorney Tim Cruz created the county’s first ever Gang and Community Prosecutions Unit in early 2016. In 2019, this Unit was renamed the Safe Streets Task Force to reflect the changing landscape of challenges faced across the county.

The experienced prosecutors and staff assigned to the Safe Streets Task Force prosecute a wide variety of crimes. These include: Unlawful possession of firearms, including the trafficking and sale of firearms, firearms violence, serious weapon-involved assault, gang crime, and narcotics distribution and trafficking.

Reentry:

Prosecutors from the Safe Streets Task Force have worked collaboratively with the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department’s Reentry Initiative since its inception. In addition to attending and presenting at reentry panels at the Plymouth House of Correction, the Safe Streets team works collaboratively with members of the Sheriff’s Department and other community providers to provide resources for formerly incarcerated persons transitioning back into the community. The DA has, alongside Plymouth Sheriff Joseph MacDonald, co-sponsored regular CORI-Friendly Job Fairs, and was proud to support the Sheriff’s placement of a full-time representative at Brockton City Hall to serve as a liaison and resource for returning citizens.

District Attorney Cruz has identified recidivism as one of his top priorities: “Recidivism, not mass incarceration, is the most significant criminal justice reform challenge in this state, and it’s a cycle we need to break. When someone becomes involved in the criminal justice system, it may be for many reasons. It is incumbent on us, as prosecutors, to identify those reasons, and then offer alternatives for that person to take a different path in the future. We need to be sure resources are available to assist those individuals down that path.  I have seen firsthand that, with the proper support, guidance, and given the right tools within our criminal justice system, people can go on to lead independent, productive lives and never look back.”

“Furthermore, reentry services for individuals previously incarcerated at the Department of Corrections and Houses of Correction are of paramount importance. I couldn’t be prouder of my office’s years’ long partnership with the Plymouth Sheriff, United States Attorney’s Office, Probation, Parole, local police departments, and social service providers in the Plymouth County Reentry Initiative, which is designed to engage individuals incarcerated at the Plymouth County House of Correction prior to their release and offer a broad range of opportunities, including housing, job training and placement, substance abuse support and counseling, and mental health services. Where an individual has a desire and drive to rise above those factors that led them to jail, but the follow through once they are released fails because of a lack of funding, the criminal justice system has not only failed that individual, but the community as a whole. If someone has the will, we must ensure there is a way.”

Prevention/Diversion:

District Attorney Cruz has incorporated trauma research and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) science into the Safe Streets Initiative.  As DA Cruz explains, “Our job as prosecutors is to help families and neighborhoods get ahead of the cycles of violence and addiction so that we can prevent the next generation from perpetuating the same cycles.”

“What is predictable, is preventable.”[1]  Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study in order to analyze the connection between adverse childhood experiences and future health detriments.  The ACE study asked participants whether they had been exposed to previous childhood trauma such as physical/emotional/sexual abuse, neglect, and whether they grew up in a household with substance use, incarcerated family member, a family member with mental illness, and/or domestic violence.  What researchers have found is that exposure to trauma resulting from ACEs disrupts neurological development, in a way that actually ‘re-wires’ the brain and causes social, emotional, and cognitive impairment.  Such impairment eventually can lead to risky behavior.[2]

The Florida Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the University of Florida were the first in the country to study ACE prevalence amongst juvenile offenders in 2014.  Half of the juveniles had experienced four or more ACEs, and only 2.8% experienced no ACEs.  The most prevalent ACEs were family violence, divorce, and household member incarceration.[3]  Similar to how ACEs put youth at greater risk for addiction, victimization, and mental health issues, ACEs are major risk factors causing juvenile delinquency. 

In 2016, youth in the Plymouth County juvenile court system had an average age of average of 5 ACEs each.[4] Dr. Felitti and Dr. Anda found during their original ACEs Study that “things start getting serious around an ACE score of 4.”[5] Those with at least 4 ACEs were “12 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 7 times more likely to be alcoholic, and 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs.”[6]

Of those in the Plymouth County juvenile court system in 2016, over half (55.6%) of these youth had a mother that was treated violently, over half (55.6%) lived in a household with substance misuse, well over half (60%) lived in a household with mental illness, and close to every juvenile (87%) had experienced parental separation or divorce.  Moreover, over a quarter (28%) of females reported prior sexual abuse

Safe Streets works collaboratively with school districts, police departments, and community-based agencies to identify children exposed to ACEs, provide trauma-informed responses, and intervene to disrupt the ACEs to criminal justice system pipeline.  


Footnotes

[1] Dr. Robert Anda, Co-Principal Investigator for the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

[2] Violence Prevention: About the CDC-Kaiser ACE Study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last updated June 14, 2016, (accessed April 2018), https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html.

[3] Ed Finkel, Florida Study Confirms Link Between Juvenile Offenders, ACEs; Rates Much Higher than CDC’s ACE Study, ACEs Too High News, August 20, 2014, (accessed April 2018), https://acestoohigh.com/2014/08/20/florida-study-confirms-link-between-juvenile-offenders-aces-rates-much-higher-than-cdcs-ace-study/.

[4] Honorable John S. Spinale, ACEs in Massachusetts Juvenile Courts: 2016, Plymouth County, November 7, 2017.

[5] Jane Ellen, The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study—the Largest, Most Important Public Health Study You Never Heard of—Began in an Obesity Clinic, ACEsTooHigh, October 3, 2012. https://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/.

[6] Id.


Active Safe Streets Initiatives

  • Prosecution
  • Strategic planning
  • Prevention
  • Intervention
  • Reentry
  • Holistic approach
  • Data driven