Persistent crime in a neighborhood increases the likelihood that a resident will become a victim of crime, participate in criminal behavior, and have mental health problems.1 Income also plays a role in rates of crime, with individuals with family incomes of less than $15,000 more than three times as likely to be the victim of a crime as individuals with family incomes of more than $75,000. The most prevalent personal crimes for low-income victims are violent.2 The interrelationship between poverty and crime is correlated with racial disparities that present an especially troubling picture of the challenges faced by youth and men of color in low-income, high-crime communities:
- While youth from low-income families are equally likely to commit drug-related offenses compared to higher-income youth, lower-income youth are much more likely to engage in violent and property crimes3
- While African Americans and Hispanics account for roughly 11% and 13%, respectively, of the general U.S. adult population, they account for nearly 50% and 20% of the nation’s prison population4
- Nearly 70% of African American males who drop out of high school will be imprisoned in their lifetimes—they have a higher chance of being in prison than of being employed5
The high rates of victimization and crime concentrated in low-income communities of color have been linked to collateral challenges including high rates of behavioral health problems and material poverty among families of incarcerated individuals and the spread of infectious disease in these communities. This combination of factors can create a feedback loop of high unemployment, poverty, transiency, poor housing, and low rates of community participation that in turn heighten the risk for crime and violence within a community.
In recent years, as detailed in the links below, CASES has initiated several neighborhood-based programs primarily focused on youth and young adults with 1) high-risk for involvement in crime including violence and 2) recent involvement in the justice system (including those returning from jail or prison). These programs typically operate from program offices located directly in the community in which participants reside and include partnerships with a variety of neighborhood-based providers. Specific communities served by CASES’ neighborhood-based programs include:
- Central Harlem
- Coney Island
- East New York
- South Bronx
Our programs in these communities tend to be smaller than our citywide initiatives and include education, employment, mental health, and substance abuse services that annually reach nearly 1,000 people.
As documented above, researchers have found that one reality of violent crime is that it tends to be committed by and to victimize those who share low-income communities of color. Interventions that can bring effective services to these communities, especially when targeted to high-risk young males, can improve public safety while disrupting the cycle of generational criminal involvement and incarceration by promoting protective factors including education, employment, engagement in behavioral health treatment, and stable housing. CASES currently operates programs located in or near 10 community districts targeted by the NYC City Department of Probation due to high rates of crime and poverty.6
For specific program information including outcomes, please see links below.