Thomas Abt

Thomas Abt

Senior Research Fellow
Innovation in Citizen Security Project, CID
Thomas Abt

Thomas Abt is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for International Development, where he leads CID's Security and Development Seminar Series. Both in the United States and globally, Thomas teaches, studies, and writes on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reducing gun, gang, and youth violence, among other topics. He also serves as a Senior Fellow with the Criminal Justice Policy Program at the Harvard Law School, as a Senior Fellow with the Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and as an Advisory Board Member to the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge.

Before joining Harvard, Thomas served as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety to Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, where he oversaw all criminal justice and homeland security agencies, including the Divisions of Corrections and Community Supervision, Criminal Justice Services, Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the State Police. During his tenure, Thomas led the development of New York's GIVE (Gun-Involved Violence Elimination) Initiative, which employs evidence-informed, data-driven approaches to reduce violence. He also established the Research Roundtable on Criminal Justice, a statewide criminal justice community connecting research with policy.

Before his work as Deputy Secretary, Thomas served as Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked with the nation’s principal criminal justice grant-making and research agencies to integrate evidence, policy, and practice. He played a lead role in establishing the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a network of federal agencies and local communities working together to reduce youth and gang violence. Thomas was also founding member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a place-based development effort that was recognized by HKS as one of the Top 25 Innovations in Government for 2013.

Thomas also worked as a law firm associate and Assistant District Attorney in New York City. He received a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a law degree with honors from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Publications and Relevant Work

Article: Towards a Framework for Preventing Community Violence Among Youth

Podcast: The Science of Reducing Violence

Op-ed: Here's how to combat violence in the U.S.

Book chapter: Evidence-Informed Criminal Justice Policy: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Interview: A researcher explains the sad truth: we know how to stop gun violence. But we don't do it.

USAID Report: What Works in Reducing Community Violence

Event with webcast and presentations: What Works in Reducing Community Violence 

Coverage of USAID Report: Can U.S. Violence Reduction Programs Work in Northern Triangle?

Op-ed: A Most Violent Year

Webcast: The Social Science Record on Focused Deterrence


Contact Information

Mailing Address
John F. Kennedy School of Government
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

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