Councilmember Tim Burgess
Council to seek continued funding for special crime reduction programs
Evaluation of CO-STARS, GOTS, and CURB inconclusive
SEATTLE – Councilmember Tim Burgess, chair of the City Council’s Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee said today that he would urge the Council to continue funding innovative crime prevention programs as it has since 2006.
The Council established the Court Specialized Treatment and Access to Recovery Services (CO-STARS), Get Off The Streets (GOTS), and Communities Uniting Rainier Beach (CURB) programs to reduce street crime by providing services to individuals with a history of chronic criminal offending or who are at risk to offend due to homelessness, chemical dependency or mental illness.
University of Washington Professor Steve Herbert and a team of researchers recently completed an independent evaluation of the programs. Overall, jail bookings among CO-STARS clients fell 30 percent after program entry, among GOTS clients bookings dropped 26 percent, while bookings of CURB clients increased 11 percent. The researchers could not say whether these changes were caused by the program, or whether future clients would see the same results. The evaluation also revealed some administrative problems and raised questions about program design, objectives, and outcome measures. (Download the evaluation at www.seattle.gov/council/burgess
“We’re in a situation where the service providers are well-intentioned and working hard,” Burgess said. “However, it is vital that taxpayer-funded programs demonstrate effectiveness. We know from other research that similar intervention programs have achieved some success, and our own programs have hints of such success, so it is prudent to continue funding while moving forward to fix the administrative and design problems.
“I also believe we must be creative in developing alternatives to traditional policing and incarceration practices. We have failed ourselves in so many ways — just look at our prison population. One in every 100 adult Americans is in prison. This is very sobering and it’s not something we should accept.”
Burgess will propose that funding for the programs—approximately $1 million per year—continue through Sept. 2010. In the meantime, he will propose that new program objectives be focused on improving neighborhood public safety and that rigorous evaluation protocols be put in place. He will ask that the city conduct a public bid process prior to awarding funding after Sept. 2010.
Burgess added that having a new mayor and new members on the City Council in January provides an opportunity to reshape and refashion these programs to achieve the results being sought.
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