Family Services utilizes research informed, promising practices in our work with individuals who have a history of gun-related, domestic violence, or aggression in their relationships in order to help them learn a healthier approach to the people in their lives and communities. Our programs increase awareness of how belief systems and personal histories can lead to violence and give individuals the knowledge and skills to make the changes in their lives that increase community safety. In 2020, 964 Individuals were reached through Family Services’ Community Safety Initiatives.
In the United States, 60% of homicides involve a gun and according to the CDC, for African American males ages 15 – 24, gun violence is the leading cause of death. In response to gun violence in the City of Poughkeepsie, Family Services in partnership with a number of community partners, initiated the SNUG Program.
SNUG is a street outreach program based on the evidence based, Cure Violence Model, which treats gun violence like a disease by identifying its causes and interrupting its transmission. The Cure Violence approach focuses on detecting and interrupting potentially violent conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and mobilizing the community to change social norms. To make the greatest impact in our community, SNUG develops and implements personalized risk-reduction strategies with each participant that reduce gun involved violence with the goal of saving lives and helping individuals turn their lives around. In 2020, SNUG spent 464 hours canvasing the community, mediated 32 conflicts to reduce gun violence and retaliation, had 539 contacts with participants, held 7 shooting responses and close to 20 participants and community events. In 2019, the City of Poughkeepsie had a 265 day stretch without a shooting, in large part owing to the collaborative efforts of SNUG. The Cure Violence Model, which has shown successful implementation across the nation as it has in Poughkeepsie, shows a reduction in shootings anywhere from 30% – 63%. (1)
Domestic Violence Offender Project (DVOP)
Domestic Violence is a significant issue all across the United States. Between 40 and 50 percent of female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners and intimate partner violence comprises 15 percent of all violent crime. In 2019, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department reported 560 domestic violence incidents about 83% (465 of 560) of those calls are intimate partner violence. The Domestic Violence Offender Project (DVOP) is an offender focused, victim centered strategy which includes tailored interventions based upon different tiers of offending. The goal is to establish strong norms against domestic violence while offering offenders resources to change their behavior.
The work of the DVOP is influenced by Intimate Partner Violence Intervention, an Evidence Based Strategy developed by the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC). An evaluation of the pilot IPVI implementation in High Point, North Carolina found dramatic reductions in intimate partner homicides and a decrease in victim injuries. Research shows a reduction of recidivism rate of 18% in the pilot IPVI site versus a recidivism rate of 45-65% in traditional Domestic Violence interventions. (2)
Domestic Abuse Awareness Classes (DAAC) and Personal Empowerment and Conflict Education (PEACE)
In 2020, DAAC and PEACE began utilizing curricula developed by Correctional Counseling, Inc. Correctional Counseling offers evidence-based and evidence-informed programming that increases accountability for offenders, provides insight into why individuals may have acted violently, and assists in confronting those behaviors in current situations. The programs are founded on a cognitive behavioral treatment program called Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT is a cognitive behavioral treatment program that leads to enhanced moral reasoning, better decision making, enhanced treatment compliance, and more appropriate behavior among offender populations. MRT shows significant impact reducing recidivism for periods as long as 20 years after treatment. (3)
DAAC for men, utilizes the MRT-DV curriculum which is tailored specifically for those who commit domestic violence. MRT DV is designed to create a sense of cognitive dissonance for clients related to their faulty belief systems and inappropriate behaviors, with the goal to change behaviors to those that promote equality, acceptance, and non-violence. By recognizing the thought process that leads to violent behavior, the program helps the client go back and look at patterns of behavior to determine where behavior began and how it can change. By helping our clients recognize negative thought processes and understand barriers to healthy relationships we believe violent behavior can be unlearned and our clients can learn to communicate without violence.
PEACE for women utilizes the Breaking the Chains of Trauma and Anger Management curricula. These curricula are designed to recognize and address the trauma that individuals have experienced and how it has manifested in their behaviors, in particular acting with aggression or anger. Trauma related symptoms pose great obstacles for individuals and this program is meant to help our clients overcome those barriers to recovery and behavior change. Once those traumas are identified, the program teaches clients coping mechanisms and strategies while encouraging behavioral change.