Urban violence is one of the most divisive and allegedly intractable issues of our time. But as CID Senior Research Fellow Thomas Abt writes in his new book Bleeding Out, we actually possess all the tools necessary to stem violence in our cities. Coupling the latest social science with firsthand experiences in policymaking, Abt proposes a relentless focus on violence itself—not drugs, gangs, or guns. Because violence is clustering among small groups of people and places, it can be predicted and prevented using a series of evidence-informed, data-driven strategies, both in the United States and in Latin America, where 41 of the 50 most violent cities are located. In this CID Speaker Series podcast produced by Growth Lab, Rushabh Sanghvi, Research Assistant at the Growth Lab interviews Thomas Abt on his latest book and its practical solutions to the global emergency of urban violence.
Interview recorded on September 27th, 2019.
About 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. He is also a member of the Campbell Collaboration Criminal Justice Steering Committee, member of the Advisory Board of the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge, and a Senior Fellow with the Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both in the United States and globally, Abt writes, teaches, and studies the use of evidence-informed approaches to reduce urban violence, among other criminal justice topics.
His new book, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence - and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets, was published by Basic Books in June 2019. Abt’s work is frequently featured in major media outlets such as the Atlantic, Economist, Foreign Affairs, New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.
Before joining Harvard, Abt 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, Abt led the development of New York’s GIVE (Gun-Involved Violence Elimination) Initiative, which employs evidence-informed, data-driven approaches to reduce gun violence. Before his work in New York, Abt 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. Abt was also founding member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a place-based development effort that was recognized by the Kennedy School as one of the Top 25 Innovations in Government for 2013. Abt received a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Michigan and a law degree with honors from the Georgetown University Law Center.