Service provider perspectives on a focused deterrence program – 2018

The purpose of this paper is to gain the perspectives from social service providers that are a key component in focused deterrence programs. All focused deterrence/pulling levers programs have at least two essential elements: first, the message to the target population that reoffending will be met with swift and certain punishment, and second that social service providers are available to assist in their transition to a law-abiding lifestyle.

A case study approach was used to gather qualitative data with open-ended interviews of social service providers that participated in Operation RASOR, a modified focused deterrence initiative that identified cross-jurisdictional, chronic offenders across three cities in New England.

The results showed that many providers were unable, and sometimes unwilling, to participate in the strategy due to their lack of awareness of what focused deterrence strategies encompass, participant eligibility restrictions, and lack of funding. These findings may impact the success of focused deterrence programs.

Research limitations/implications
Future research should include a larger sample from programs operating in different cities. The importance of the social services component of focused deterrence strategies and their capability of serving clients within those programs needs further examination for the integrity of these programs to adequately serve the participants.

The perceptions from social service providers on the program elements and ability to provide necessary services to the targeted offenders have never been examined. This study aids in expanding the literature on focused deterrence programs. It can also inform law enforcement agencies on the services that are most needed by the target population and the importance of coordinating their initiatives with service providers.

Julie Schnobrich-Davis, Desiree Gardner
Safer Communities, 2018