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Developing the Capacity to Understand and Prevent Homicide: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2012
95 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission (MHRC), which was established in May 2004 with the mandate to address the city's persistent lethal violence.

A distinguishing feature of the MHRC is its inclusion of community agencies and leaders outside of the traditional criminal justice system. The evaluation examined MHRC's work from January 2005 through December 2007. Overall, the homicide review process found that homicide in the city's intervention districts were largely clustered in specific locations, such as in and around taverns, as well as in districts with concentrations of active offenders who had been involved in the criminal justice system. Homicides were often the outcome of persistent disputes between individuals and/or groups (usually gangs). Homicides were often committed to gain respect and status among peers who valued fearless displays of power and control over others, as well as to inflict retribution on those showing disrespect and confrontational interactions. Generally, the MHRC decisionmaking and actions produced a comprehensive set of actionable policy and practice recommendations whose implementation and effects were continuously monitored by the MHRC. MHRC actions were intended to better position criminal justice, social service, and community based organizations in addressing the violence-related factors in high-risk locations and high-risk individuals with a propensity for violence. The impact evaluation found that the implementation of the MHRC interventions was linked with a statistically significant 52-percent decrease in the monthly count of homicides in the treatment districts. In comparison, the control districts had a statistically insignificant 9.2- percent decrease in homicides, after controlling for the other covariates. Apparently, the MHRC's crafting of interventions designed to address underlying risks associated with homicides has had a significant impact in reducing incidents of lethal violence. 6 tables, 1 figure, 57 references, and appended evaluation instruments

Date Published: January 1, 2012