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Evaluation of the Safe Streets Now! Approach: Civil Remedies for Drugs, Crime, and Nuisance Problems

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2000
144 pages
Publication Series
This document assesses the effectiveness, benefits, costs, and consequences of replicating the program called Safe Streets Now!
Safe Streets Now! (SSN) is a non-profit organization that has developed a unique civil remedy approach to location-specific crime, drug, and nuisance problems. The signature activity, its primary civil remedy, is the filing of small claims court actions against property owners who refuse to address known problems on their property. The aim of the program is to help citizens resolve specific neighborhood problems and empower those citizens in ways that encourage additional problem solving and strengthening neighborhoods. This evaluation relied on three major methods: a national survey of 35 programs; case studies of four programs with different local sponsors; and impact studies that were conducted for seven neighborhoods. Results showed that overall, it appeared that the SSN approach was an excellent one for eliminating or reducing problems on specific properties. The vast majority of cases were resolved without resorting to filing small claims cases; most were resolved through notification and negotiations with the property owner. When claims were filed, the residents prevailed most of the time. Although citizen fears of retaliation from problem tenants and property owners were high and affected local participation, actual acts of retaliation were few and minor. There are indications that SSN is a cost-effective approach. A major factor in SSN failing to be implemented at the local level was the concern cities have expressed about municipality liability in sponsoring the program. In police departments, it appears that SSN tends to become another tool used among many for problem solving. In the case studies, it was clear that the success of a local SSN program was closely tied to the expertise, reputation, and charisma of the program director. The central recommendation is that local jurisdictions will benefit from the implementation of a SSN program. Appendices

Date Published: December 1, 2000