Violence Prevention Initiative

The Violence Prevention Initiative is a multi-part effort dedicated to addressing community violence through Reimagine ReentryGunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Service, and Homicide Review. The initiative is led by Richard Garland and Steven Albert.

Reimagine ReEntry: holistic Services for Returning citizens in Allegheny county

It is an enormous public burden to place and keep a person behind bars. In Pennsylvania, it costs more than $42,000 per year to keep one person in the state corrections system, and this does not count the public safety intervention, court appointments, local jail time, and administrative efforts it takes to first place a person. Outside of public expenditures, the cost to victims and the families of those in corrections is massive, including legal fees, phone calls, transportation time and expense, loss of income and family support, and separated families.

Once released from state corrections, two of every three people across the US are rearrested for a new offense and about half are reincarcerated within three years of their release. In Pennsylvania, sixty-three percent of parolees return to corrections within three years.

When returning to society, these men and women face immense systemic barriers that are only magnified by incarceration, such as low employment, lack of healthcare, limited education, a prevalence of homelessness, and much more.

With the significant cost of incarceration to states, communities, and families, and the massive coordination involved amongst systems, what if that same effort and investment was put into their reentry to society? What if returning citizens had a comprehensive, fully-invested approach to their exit from incarceration and reentrance into their communities?

Reimagine Reentry is a reentry program for people returning home to Allegheny County from incarceration. At Reimagine Reentry, we come alongside returning citizens to address the unique challenges of reentering the community through a strengths-based approach. We aim to provide opportunities, reduce barriers, and support returning citizens and work to highlight and harness those characteristics to empower positive change for each individual and their community. 

Our services include: 

  • Reentry coaching and mentoring
  • Workforce development and training
  • Family reunification education
  • Housing assistance planning

Contact us

Reimagine Reentry Program
2038 Bedford Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15219

Learn more at letsreimaginereentry.org or contact us at info@reimaginereentry.org

GUNSHOT REOCCURRING INJURY PREVENTION SERVICES

GRIPS is a hospital-based violence intervention program with the goal of preventing firearm assault re-injury and criminal involvement.  Firearm assault survivors are recruited from hospital sites and offered case management and social support. With the help of GRIPS interventionists, participants outline goal areas (e.g., employment, completing GED) to address during the 6-month duration of the intervention. Participants complete a questionnaire at baseline and follow-up. 

University of Pittsburgh IRB#PRO13120052 and clinicaltrials.gov #NCT02642224.

Homicide Review

The Homicide Review has been examining homicides in the City of Pittsburgh since 2012 by combining epidemiologic surveillance with community-based participation to better understand neighborhood dynamics associated with violence. In 2014 the Homicide Review expanded to all of Allegheny County. The ultimate goal is to develop intervention strategies for reducing the homicide rate in Allegheny County. 

Executive Summary, 2020 Report

Our detailed review of Allegheny County's 108 homicides in 2020 further supports the need to distinguish between types of homicide cases. The 2020 homicide total for the City of Pittsburgh was 53 (increase in 54% from 2019) and for the suburban areas was 55 (decrease of 8% from 2019). 

A typical homicide in Allegheny County (2020): 

Victim

  • Male
  • African American
  • 21-30 years old 
  • 1-3 prior arrests
  • Prior drug and/or burglary arrest 
  • Was or previously on probation/parole

Suspect

  • Male
  • African American
  • 18-28 years old
  • 1-5 prior arrests
  • Prior drug and/or weapon arrest
  • Was or previously on probation/parole

Common Circumstances

  • Victim and suspect were peers
  • Occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight
  • Occurred on a Wednesday
  • Involved a firearm

Key Findings from 2020 Homicide Review Report

  • Homicide victimization continues to be unevenly distributed across populations or places. While only 13% of Allegheny County residents are black or African American, 81% of the victims were black. Fifteen percent of the homicides occurred in just one zip code of Allegheny County's 130 neighborhoods, zip code 15208. 
  • Firearms are the main cause of death. 90% of homicides were firearm related. 
  • Social context matters for homicide victimization. Chronic, multigenerational involvement in violence and illegal activities; additional opportunities for conflict through increased use of social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and websites attracting extremists); prevalence of drugs, alcohol, and access to firearms; biases and violence as normative behavior were identified as relevant in the homicides. 

Download 2020 Homicide Review Report (PDF)

Homicide Review Report Archive

Contact

Gina Brooks
Project coordinator
Community Violence Prevention Project
Homicide Review
gib19@pitt.edu
412-624-3612


Additional VPI affiliates

Faculty, staff, and students in the Departments of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (Todd Bear, Lora Ann Bray, Jessica Burke, Patricia Documet) and Epidemiology (Andrea Arrington, Anthony Fabio).